Technology of the future – autonomous cars

Technology of the future – autonomous cars

Technology of the future – autonomous cars

0 comments 📅02 January 2017, 12:03

Every automotive decade has it’s keywords. Safety, ecology, downsizing, and recently turbo diesels. Today, electrics and hybrids and autonomous dominate. For conservative car lovers these trends has never contradicted the idea of ​​the automotive industry – especially with the arrival of autonomous cars.

For some a curse and for others the only chance of independent journey. Children, disabled and even slightly impaired drivers will be able to travel without limitations. Is the autonomous technology new? Not exactly, it’s a strategy consistently implemented by corporations and not only automotive ones, combined with technical advancement.

With increased safety in mind, cars have been replacing and augmenting the skills of drivers for a long time. On one hand traction systems like ABS or ESP and on the other comfort enhancements such as automatic transmissions or up-hill start assistance. There is no end to these types of improvements in multiple aspects of driving: tire pressure sensors, blind spots monitoring, parking assistants, adaptive cruise control and collision warning systems. Adding to all of this an effective infotainment system coupled with connected navigation and we almost get an autonomous car.

We are ready technologically but not yet mentally. Differences in driving attitudes can be seen particularly between drivers from North America and Europe and especially Poland, where driving has an emotional aspect to it – almost like a constant battle for the pole position. American drivers treat their cars more like an object, as a means to fulfil the daily tasks. You can almost feel this lack of emotion in the way that the suspension and steering are tuned in North-American cars. It should therefore be easier to relegate driving to a machine. What matters the most is comfort and better use of available time. A quick nap for the weary or an e-mail session while on the way sounds enticing. After all most of us we spend upwards of an hour in traffic daily.

Why do we build autonomous cars?

There is no single answer to this question, but there are a few good reasons. The first one is safety. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk (an advocate and maker of self-driving cars) believes that the future of mobility belongs to autonomous vehicles and in approx. 20 years people will be banned from driving on public roads. In his opinion humans represent the biggest threat to transportation. Echoing this opinion is a research study confirming the effectiveness of safety systems installed in conventional cars. Quoting the report “Assessment of the Effectiveness of Advanced Collision Avoidance Technologies”, which was published in 2014 by University of Michigan:

▪ ESP system help to avoid as much as 26% of accidents involving one car, 13% of accidents involving multiple vehicles and 64% of rollovers

▪ collision warning systems combined with active cruise control (FCW – Forward Collision Warning + ACC – adaptive cruise control) can eliminate up to 10% of rear end collisions.

These figures are very encouraging, although they do not yet apply to 100% of autonomous cars.

Another argument in favor of driver-less cars is ecology in multiple aspects. First machines can drive more efficiently and second generate less traffic congestion thanks to having access to an updated road situation across the entire route and select and implement the best option.

Let’s go back to the future

Autonomous cars aside, the second aspect is the road infrastructure. Roads full of sensors and communication systems like V2V (Vehicle-2-Vehicle) and I2V (Infrasctructure-2-Vehicle). Traditional road signs would be recreated in the digital format and only understood by driver-less cars. Complying with the rules of the road will become a completely new dimension. It is likely that speed limits would be imposed centrally by the traffic control center, depending on current, traffic and weather conditions. This approach mimics that of air traffic control. This of course requires manufacturing standards for an electronic exchange of information from multiple sources and highly efficient processing and transmission of data to moving objects. The question becomes then whether this autonomous revolution is still an automotive industry or information technology.

Autonomous cars also bring about a social revolution

Do we want to buy cars, which we will not drive? Probably not – people will switch to urban car rental. Some business and habits will disappear: a parking spot will be located automatically, selling food at gas stations will no longer make sense as people will stop going there. New services such as autonomous couriers and short trip booking systems.

What happens to traditional cars with a steering wheel and gas and brake pedals?

Will their use be limited to special closed areas? Will they become hobby cars available on the weekends to automotive enthusiasts. Why not? We will see how things turn out in the coming years.

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