5 technologies today that take us closer to autonomous driving
*feature image source: mitsloan.mit.edu
Safety technologies and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) have become a salient feature for safety in current generation vehicles. ADAS primarily functions through the application of various sensory devices such as radars, sensors and cameras which act as the eyes of the vehicle.
Safety technologies and ADAS are a vital enabler in the development of autonomous vehicles (AV). This allows the car to function on its own without any human intervention. More importantly, today’s technologies will be able to provide us a vision of future mobility. They will evolve to not only be more powerful, but also more integrated with one other.
In this article, we take a look at 5 technologies today that take us closer to autonomous driving.
1. Automatic parking
Picture source: www.groovecar.com
Automatic parking is a car-manoeuvring ADAS that parks a vehicle either in parallel, perpendicular or a particular angle without the need of human intervention.
This feature aims to enhance the comfort and safety of driving in constrained environments where much attention is required to safely steer the car.
The parking manoeuvre is achieved through the coordination between the steering angle and speed which takes into account the actual situation in the environment (through sensors and cameras fitted around the vehicle) to ensure collision-free motion within the parking space.
Advanced versions of this technology even enables the vehicle to be parked remotely using an application on the driver’s smartphone.
2. Autonomous emergency braking system (AEB)
Picture source: www.ancap.com.au
AEB is one of the most commonly found ADAS in manufactured vehicles today and can even be found in locally built cars such as the Perodua Myvi and Proton X70.
This safety technology automatically engages a vehicle’s braking system (within a predetermined range of speed) upon detection of an imminent collision. This objective is achieved by detecting obstacles ahead of the vehicle through various sensors, cameras and radars fitted around the vehicle.
Some AEB systems come equipped with a pedestrian detection system to enable the vehicle’s computer to also recognise pedestrian as an object while some advanced versions also allows automatic braking while the car is in reverse.
3. Driver monitoring system
Picture source: www.seeingmachines.com
This feature is designed to monitor driver attentiveness. In order to do this, this feature makes use of a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera that is placed on the steering column that is capable of detecting eye movements via infrared LED detectors.
When the system detects that the driver is not paying attention, it will warn the driver by emitting a warning sound or flashing lights.
Certain driver monitoring systems are coupled with AEB where the system can automatically engage a vehicle’s braking system when the system detects the driver is not paying attention ahead of an oncoming collision.
4. Vehicular communication systems
Picture source: www.motor1.com
Vehicular communication is a network of connected vehicles and infrastructure ranging from traffic lights to buildings. Elements that are connected in the network will be able to provide each other with information, such as safety warnings, traffic information and road conditions.
Vehicle communication systems are typically divided into two parts – vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) and vehicle-to-anything communication (V2X). In V2V, communications only occur between vehicles as opposed to V2X, where vehicles can communicate with other systems/road infrastructure in the environment.
This feature can help in solving or reducing the negative effects of common problems faced on the road today such as traffic congestion and accidents.
For example, when vehicles are connected to each other, they can share various information with each other such as traffic condition, road closures and weather conditions in real-time. This is achieved through sensor fusion. Sensor fusion refers to combining information from multiple sensors (from various vehicles) to provide data on the state of the environment.
According to Daimler, “In 2013, Mercedes-Benz was the first car maker to introduce widespread car-to-car networking in the form of a retrofit solution”. The Mercedes E-Class family boasted a “mobile phone-supported exchange of information with e.g. other vehicles further ahead can effectively allow the driver to “see around corners” or “through obstacles” well in advance. This means that the driver receives an earlier warning than previously in the event of imminent danger, such as a broken down vehicle at the edge of the road or also in the event of heavy rain or black ice on the road ahead”.
This feature is also used in the development of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) due its ability to connect various elements together in a single network. Current development include California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH).
5. In-built navigation system
Most of the current generation vehicles comes pre-built with a head unit that supports a third-party navigation software which can be accessed when connected to a smartphone. Certain premium models even comes with an in-built navigation software. This feature helps the driver find the shortest and fastest route to reach a destination.
In recent years, automotive players have been developing a navigation system that allows a vehicle to drive autonomously to a destination. This is achieved by integrating artificial intelligence (AI), positioning technologies such as Global Positioning System (GPS) and sensory devices.
The vehicle’s location will be determined using GPS (or any other relevant positioning technologies). Using graph theory (the study of graphs to model pairwise relations between objects), the best route will be determined. Then, the AI, together with sensory devices fitted around the car will be able to automatically drive the car towards the determined destination, without human intervention.
Many of the features mentioned above are already available in current generation vehicles but what’s more important is the continuous research and development, focusing on improving the limitations these safety technologies and ADAS are currently facing.
Ultimately, it is all about integrating various elements together (such as AI, robotics and Internet of Things (IoT)-related technologies and services) into one connected and intelligent environment.