Fully automated driving nears reality

  • 21-Sep-2012 03:12 EDT
SRX Pole.jpg

Another step toward fully automated driving: Three 2013 Cadillacs (SRX shown) have a new safety system called Front and Rear Automatic Braking that can slam on the brakes as a last resort to help drivers that might fail to see another vehicle or object in his/her path. (Photo by John F. Martin for Cadillac)

We’ve dedicated a majority of the coverage in the October 2 AEI print issue’s Tech Report department to topics on the agenda at the SAE Convergence 2012 conference and exhibition that will take place Oct. 15-16 in Detroit’s Cobo Center.

One of these articles focuses on the recent launch of a major real-life demonstration of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technologies in Ann Arbor, MI (see http://www.sae.org/mags/aei/conv/11381). The U.S. government is sponsoring the demo, which it claims is the largest-ever road test of connected-vehicle crash-avoidance technologies. It is another step in the evolution of safer road transportation targeting the eventual goal of fully automated, or self-driving, vehicles.

Among the companies involved, General Motors will run eight V2V-intensive Buick and Cadillac models. Data from the demo will be used not only by the U.S. Department of Transportation for possible rulemaking but also by participants for R&D purposes.

Common standards and security frameworks will need to be established for V2V and V2I technologies so that vehicles from different automakers can communicate and interoperate with each other in a consistent manner, said Nady Boules, GM Global R&D Director of the company’s Electrical and Control Systems Research Lab. SAE International’s J2735 is the communications standard and is based on a technology called Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments. J2735 currently is under review for possible revision, and several related standards are in development.

Fully autonomous may be here sooner than anyone thought, according to a new report by KPMG LLP and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) called Self-Driving Car: The Next Revolution.

“Now the pace of innovation is speeding up and the industry is on the brink of a new technological revolution with ‘self-driving’ vehicles,” said Gary Silberg, National Automotive Industry Leader for KPMG LLP and co-author of the report.

According to the report, the convergence of sensor-based and connected-vehicle technologies will happen and will have a positive effect on consumers’ adoption of both systems. The result will be enhanced mobility and safety as well as reduced environmental impacts. The convergence could have far-reaching implications for the traditional automotive and related value chains.

However, the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) industry finds itself facing important decisions regarding mandate of DRSC-based technology and ensuring seamless integration with existing converged technologies.

“It is essential [that] the ITS debate shift to encompass the wider framework of the connected-car environment, which offers a nearly continuous spectrum of connectivity options offering a variety of range, line of sight, and response time characteristics,” said ABI Research Vice President and Practice Director Dominique Bonte. She believes that synergies among the three connectivity categories will need to be established:

• Very short range: advanced driver assistance system sensors, radar, sonar, laser, lidar, and video

• Short range: V2V & V2I, DSRC 5.9 GHz, and IEEE 802.11p

• Wide area connections: cellular, Wi-Fi, satellite (traditional telematics).

As connected and autonomous technology companies figure out how to compete and collaborate at the same time, the evolution of these advancements will cause a rebalancing of the automotive value chain. Ultimately, all of these connectivity options and others may be required if the goal of 100% safe and automated driving is to become a reality.

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