How close are we to the reality of autonomous driving? Is it closer than we might think, still years away and dependent on the widespread deployment of V2X technology, or both?
Tier one supplier Continental completed a two-week, 6,000-mile automated driving endurance test on public roads in Nevada. It credited knowledge gained from the car that won the DARPA Urban Challenge in 2007 and from HAVEit, an EU-funded research project. GM recently touted the numerous safety features in the 2013 Cadillac XTS (http://johndayautomotivelectronics.com/?p=9585).
Continental said its test included different driving scenarios and “close-to-production” technologies for monitoring immediate surroundings. It cited among those technologies a stereo camera with sensors that can measure the distance and size of potential obstacles, the MK 100 electronically controllable braking system, and electric power steering (EPS).
The test also served to investigate possible use cases, and to determine the acceptable operating range for the vehicle’s fully automated mode. In situations that exceeded the current capabilities of highly-automated driving, such as where road markings could not be detected or if the bends were too tight, the system switched itself off and the driver had to resume control of the vehicle. If the driver failed to react, the vehicle’s speed was gradually reduced until it came to a stop.
Continental noted that driver mistakes were found to be the cause of over 80 percent of all accidents involving personal injuries in Germany in 2010, according to the German Federal Statistical Office. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can support drivers in demanding and difficult situations as well as in monotonous driving situations in which a driver’s attention can lag.
Continental said it will use the experience gained in the Nevada test to improve its ADAS technology and added that the results “represent an important step on the road toward realizing the vision of accident-free driving.”