Internet revolution in the automotive industry

Internet revolution in the automotive industry

Internet revolution in the automotive industry

0 comments 📅02 December 2014, 22:48

Audi received five awards for connectivity in the following categories: Navigation, Telephone Integration, Sound System, Entertainment/Multimedia and Connected Cars. The result is based on a survey conducted among 42 500 readers of “Auto motor und sport” and “CHIP” magazines evaluating the connectivity of cars. The awarded solutions from Audi include: MMI Navigation plus, Audi phone box, Bang&Olufsen Sound System in Audi S3 and LTE for the passengers. Audi TT became the “Connected Car” category winner mainly for the virtual cockpit which merges the dashboard and MMI monitor into one digital unit. The solution sets a new trend in the automotive industry with its dynamic and crisp graphics.

Not less important than the titles are the words of Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, Technical Development who said: “Connectivity is our future”, further adding: “We consider connectivity to be a megatrend that will keep us busy well into the future. We use Audi connect to seamlessly connect our automobiles with their environment – with the driver, the Internet, infrastructure and other vehicles.” The start of 2014 already showed that Audi is dead set on connected cars, as we reported in January.

Audi’s cooperation with both Google and Apple as well as their work on proprietary solutions has been awarded by the most interested and competent group of evaluators – the drivers and passengers who use the car manufacturer’s products on daily basis.

What next? 

All this is just a warm-up before the great launch of the autonomous vehicle (also known as a self-driving car) from Google or Nissan. The year 2015 promises to be full of breakthroughs – as many producers plan to introduce their autonomous vehicles, while others are working hard to develop more or less advanced autonomous driving systems publishing photos of drivers with hands over rather than on the steering wheel.

Fifty drivers from the Silicone Valley owning Audi A4 or S4 2012 models and with $10 000 to spare were invited to participate in the autonomous car tests called Cruise Automation. The program was created by a team of engineers and specialists in robotics, traffic control and video systems. The hardware consists of a toolbox-sized unit installed in the trunk, integrated roof cameras and a control button in the cockpit of the car. So far the system has been designed to be used only on limited access roads such as motorways and only on selected fragments around San Francisco. Of course, in the future, the system is meant to be available on all publicly accessible roads.

 

The solution is based on exchange of telemetric data from a vast array of sensors, cameras and radars from the roof of the car to the Cruise Automation computer. Moreover, the OBDII port supplies the system with information about the steering angle, overload and tension. The CA computer then sends commands to special electromechanical servomotors installed in the steering wheel and acceleration and brake pedals to execute specific maneuvers such as breaking, acceleration or turning the wheel. The system is activated by a button and the driver has the option to manually drive the car before engaging the autonomous system, giving drivers choice which is not possible in case of Google’s self-driving car.

So far Audi’s system could be described as advanced cruise control with modules of start-stop, safe distance guard which also keeps the car on the lane (slowing down, accelerating and locating obstacles).

Interestingly, as it very often happens in life, the law cannot keep up with the technology. Without necessary legal changes such solutions as Cruise Automation cannot be implemented or even tested. It is worth mentioning, however, that the Silicone Valley area is enjoying a certain degree of autonomy in terms of work on self-driving cars and the UK has been the pioneer in changing legislation, allowing autonomous vehicles to be used on public roads from January 2015 – the first formal signal of things to come.

The final shape of Cruise Automation has not crystallized yet – the system could become fully autonomous (following Google’s model of eliminating the need for a driver) or partially-autonomous with minimal engagement of the driver. Based on the available information it appears that the latter solution will probably be chosen. Similar vision is presented by the company Baidu (known as Chinese Google), which is working on their own concept of self-driving cars. The effects could already be visible in 2015. During an interview with The Next Web* Kai Yu, Deputy Director of Baidu Institute of Deep Learning said: “…in the future, a car should not totally replace the driver but should really give the driver freedom. Freedom means the car is intelligent enough to operate by itself, like a horse, and make decisions under different road situations. Whenever the driver wants to resume control, you can do that. It’s like riding on a horse, rather than just sitting in a car where you only have a button.” This vivid description gives us an idea how the Chinese “Google Car” project might look like.

Work conducted on two continents resulted in very similar visions of the car of the future. Both Baidu and the makers of Cruise Automation want automation but with a degree of human input. In addition, CA can be installed in different models of cars produced by different manufacturers. In other words, car owners would be able to upgrade their cars with a CA solution rather than having to buy a dedicated car from a large corporation. We definitely support such initiatives!

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