How a Car Drives Itself
So how do AVS work? They follow a “sense-plan-act” approach. A suite of sensors, cameras and radars are in charge of guiding the vehicle and gathering data from its environment. This data is then interpreted by software algorithms stored on the vehicle’s main computer. Finally, the data is converted into commands for vehicle steering, throttle and brakes.
There is much more to autonomous systems than meets the eye. AV systems rely heavily on artifificial intelligence and machine learning to make informed decisions and difffffferentiate surroundings. Machine learning algorithms employed are based on object tracking and sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms are designed to improve the accuracy of distinguishing between
objects, for example, whether an object is another vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle, or even an animal. AV systems are constantly analyzing the environment and feeding perceived images into the algorithm. The images are examined and then the nature of the objects is classified. These algorithms allow the vehicle to “learn” object characteristics such as movement, size and shape in order to classify future images with higher accuracy.
In recent years, automakers have barely touched the surface of connective technology, focusing on the development of Human Machine Interface (HMI), which is mainly made up of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and infotainment systems. ADAS provides drivers with safety assistance technology, including features such as blind spot detection, lane assist, active cruise control, and collision warning and active park assistance. Infotainment systems, on the other hand, provide drivers with driving entertainment through smartphone connectivity and user-friendly touchscreen interfaces. The future of connected car technology, however, goes far beyond what’s being offered on the market today. Vehicle communication aims to be far more integrated and immersive for the driver. Introduced as Vehicle-to-everything ( V2X) communication, such technology will be capable of passing information from a vehicle to any external entity that may affect the vehicle, and vice versa. The three main categories currently being developed are: V2I ( Vehicle-to-Infrastructure), V2V ( Vehicle-to-vehicle), and V2D ( Vehicle-to-device).
Vehicle-to-infrastructure ( V2I) is based on wireless communication technology, establishing an exchange between vehicles and highway infrastructure, transforming infrastructure equipment into “smart infrastructure” which contain communication technology such as sensors, receivers and transmitters. V2I provides a wide range of safety, mobility, and environmental benefits for drivers. One particularly convenient V2I service is the ability of vehicles to communicate with traffic light systems. How this works is that when a car enters
an area or city that supports V21, it logs onto the infrastructure's cloud and is then given a unique service token. The vehicle’s GPS location and heading then determine which traffic signal is coming up. Information about that light will be provided, notifying the driver whether they’ll be able to make it through the intersection or not. In the case that they are caught at the red light, a countdown (in seconds) begins until the green light appears. Audi recently showcased this technology in Las Vegas and plans to provide this optional feature in its 2017 vehicles but with a monthly subscription fee. Sadly, however, V2I services such as this will most likely be introduced via painfully slow rollout one city at a time.
Vehicle-to-vehicle ( V2V) technology relies on the above “smart infrastructure” to create a platform for vehicles to communicate, enabling the sending and receiving of data between compatible vehicles. Information on road conditions, traffic, and other environmental conditions are some of the few examples. The technology behind V2V is based on small radio transmitters and receivers found in vehicles, which are capable of broadcasting information to infrastructure and other vehicles within several hundred yards. Safety, of course, is the main motivation behind this V2V. For example, in the case of a hazard, vehicle and infrastructure sensors will automatically alert the platform, which, in theory, will notify nearby connected vehicles. Another advantage is that vehicles may also alert the platform of traffic severity analysis of vehicle speed and location, notifying other vehicles and recommending a re-route.
Vehicle-to-device ( V2D) communication is a particular type of vehicular communication system that enables the exchange of information between a vehicle and an electronic device, in most cases a smart device (smartphone/ smart watch). The growing development of mobile technology has ultimately entered the automotive tech industry. V2D leverages smart device technology through mobile apps and NFC capabilities to offffffer a better driving experience - allowing you to monitor, as well as interact, with your vehicle. Many automakers have come to embrace this technology, some the first-movers being BMW and Tesla. BMW’S V2D tech, first made available on the 2016 7-series, offers both a mobile app and a smart key fob. The mobile app allows the driver to access certain vehicle functions remotely while the smart key fob allows for monitoring vehicle information and statistics. Similar to BMW, Tesla also provides a similar mobile app. Features include allowing the customer to remotely turn the vehicle on and off, pre-setting vehicle temperature and using the “summon” feature.
AVS represent a major breakthrough in automotive innovation, but their potential impact on society remains ambiguous.
Below are some of the ultimate impacts AV’S could have on economy, mobility, and society as a whole.
Car Insurers May Need To Shift Their Business Model
For the longest time, car insurers have provided coverage to customers in the event of road accidents caused by human error. With the introduction of AVS, auto insurers will need to shift the core of their business model and focus on insuring car manufacturers from liabilities due to technical failure instead; this opens up an entirely new business but may prove problematic to insurance companies.
Road Accident Rates Will Drop
Along with today’s AV safety precautions, further R&D will decrease motor-vehicle accidents significantly. As more advanced AVS slowly become readily available to the public, less driver intervention will result in less human error and breach of law, which will ultimately decrease road accidents.
As surreal as driverless cars may seem, the autonomous technology bandwagon is continuously growing and automakers hope to make their driverless cars available to the public as soon as 2020. Now, the thought of sitting back and relaxing during your daily commute is great and all but like everything in this world, nothing is perfect. Below are few of the most common arising issues that have yet to be solved for AVS:
1. Struggling in bad weather
conditions: During heavy snow or rain LIDAR sensors and cameras have a difficult time seeing lane markers and other objects that help them drive safely.
2. Struggling on roads without clear lane markings:
Lane markings are the basis for guiding driverless cars, so when they can’t be distinguished, it becomes nearly impossible for AVS to operate or change lanes safely.
3. Navigating in the city:
Cities contain pedestrians, cars, potholes, traffic cones and a whole mess of other variables. All of these obstacles may be too much for cars to keep track of and safe driving becomes compromised.
4. Country regulations:
With the introduction of AVS, new regulations need to be implemented. However, inconsistent regulations around the world will pose a dilemma. Each country may have difffffferent laws and regulations, making it difficult for manufacturers to match them all.