The next generation of Autonomous driven vehicles / cars
The dream of driverless cars is as old as cars themselves.
But these days; the value of discretionary time it becomes more and more important and companies want to increase their efficiency steadily. Imagine you could use time however you want while your car brings you safely from one place to another? Despite steady news about self-driving cars, such vehicles remain in prototype test forms. Right now, no mass-produced vehicle can fully drive itself.
Not yet, but will it take long until we see self-driving cars on our streets regularly?
Let’s have a look on what is an autonomous driven car
Wikipedia defines an autonomous car (also known as a driverless car, self-driving car and robotic car) as a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input”
Autonomous cars combine a variety of techniques to perceive their surroundings, including radar, laser light, GPS, odometry and computer vision. Advanced control systems interpret sensory information to identify appropriate navigation paths, as well as obstacles and relevant signage.
The technical requirements are a combination of a variety of already – existing techniques, including radar, laser light, GPS, odometry, and computer advanced control vision, which interpret sensory information to identify appropriate navigation paths, as well as obstacles and relevant signage needed to enable the vehicles to perceive their surroundings. However also new techniques are being developed and optimized continuously”
The SAE Society of Automotive Engineers defined 6 autonomy level definitions in 2014
Description of the five levels:
1. Hands on
Driver and automated systems share control of the vehicle. The automatic system only assists with some functions, but the driver must be ready to retake full control at any time.
Example: parking assistance
2. Hands off
Allows the driver to disengage from some of their tasks, as the system is equipped with warning signals but must also intervene in some tasks. The automated system takes full control of the vehicle, although the contact between hand and wheel is mandatory to confirm that the driver is ready to intervene.
3. Eyes off
The driver can disengage from safety critical situations like emergency breaking and can safely turn their attention away from some driving tasks e. g. the driver can text or watch a movie, but the driver must still be prepared to intervene within a limited time.
Example traffic jam pilot. When activated by the human driver, the system takes full control of all aspects of driving at up to 60 kilometers per hour.
Cars with level 3 of self-driving already exist. this year, Audi launched the new model of Audi A8 Luxury Sedan, which was the first commercial car to claim to be capable of level 3 self-driving.
4. Mind off
Cars with level 4 do not require any human driver in certain environments. “the vehicle itself controls all monitoring of the environment (using sensors like LIDAR)” But this is limited in special areas or under special circumstances like traffic jams. “Outside of these areas or circumstances, the vehicle must be able to safely abort the trip, i.e. park the car, if the driver does not retake control.”
5. Fully automated
There is no human interference necessary. The car controls everything completely automated without any human attention even in critical tasks. The only thing which must be done by the passenger is to type in the desired destination, the rest is controlled by the vehicle itself.
In recent times it seems that the automakers are standing shortly on the verge of a breakthrough in the autonomous driving business, to become the first manufacturer to introduce the first autonomous car without human drivers to the public. Experts expect that the cars will be replaced by self-driving taxis so that they won´t be necessary to have a driver`s license for them. But this is a forecast into at least the next decade.
Nevertheless, nobody has yet demonstrated a car at autonomy level 5, where it is so independent that human control is no longer necessary.
Nowadays autonomous cars can handle low speeds in certain surroundings and in pre-mapped areas.
The leader is Waymo which has a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans, which can navigate city streets in San Francisco and are even able to reach full speeds on highways. Waymo is the only manufacturer, that has included tested vehicles at level 4 already with passenger´s and volunteers.
They are starting a pilot program in Phoenix with driverless minivans for the public this year.
Daimler is one of the early pioneers of autonomous car systems, the company already involved in the late 1990´s an adaptive cruise -control system on its flagship S-Class Sedan the system could determine the distance to the vehicle on the front.
But recently the manufacturer tested V-Class vans with technology already at level 5 in critical situations like morning traffic, on the roads of Böblingen near Stuttgart.
The path to developing cars at level 5 is long, complicated, and dangerous.
In recent times 2 of the leading manufacturers had to cope with major setbacks.
On March 18th a Volvo SUV from Uber which had been modified to use driverless technology, has caused an accident in Tempa, Arizona where a pedestrian was killed. As a result, Uber suspended all its testing until the end of investigations.
Five days later, an SUV of Tesla which was navigating on autopilot mode crashed in California, where the driver has been killed.
These incidents triggered an intense discussion regarding the safety of driverless cars during their trial period and threatened the development or even impeded the adoption of this technology
Warton´s John Paul Mac Duffie and Carnegie Mellon´s Constantie Samares were discussing the development of autonomous vehicles and the recent accidents in a podcast, where John Paul Mac Duffie said:
„We´ve been telling ourselves that inevitably in the testing and autonomous vehicles there are going to people who are objective injured or killed, and we know that human drivers kill other humans all the time. “
Even though the primary ambition must be the prevention of such accidents, or to handle it like in the aviation industry, where safety has always been the highest priority.
How to accelerate this process?
The focus should be on extended testing and simulation systems,
for instance, the KontrolDev is a patent pending, agile toolchain to develop certifiable, safety critical software to power autonomous systems. Instead of using traditional development methods KontrolDev uses formal verification to test the design and the code. Furthermore, it employs formal system verification to test the correct effect of control functions onto the system. The tools are qualified according safety critical standards, leading to a reduction of the development cost of 50-70%.