Driverless vehicles use lasers, cameras, computer processors and software, radar, GPS and lidar (light detection and ranging) devices to create and constantly update a 3D map of their surroundings. Self-driving car companies also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to program the vehicles to learn from their experiences and act more like human drivers.

Source: Waymo

Data for the graphic are as follows:

Component Description of How It Functions
Vision System High-resolution cameras with a 360-degree view work at long range and in low light.
Lidar Emits millions of laser pulses each second and measures how long each takes to reflect off a surface and return.
Radar Radio waves track the speed of other objects around the vehicle.
Supplemental Sensors GPS helps the vehicle pinpoint its location; an audio detection system “hears” emergency sirens hundreds of feet away.
Onboard Computer Software uses machine learning to predict how objects on the road will behave; a secondary computer can stop the vehicle if the main computer fails.

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