Smart cars – state of the art, autonomy levels& legal

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Intelligent vehicles, smart cars, autonomous driving – all topics that people are increasingly confronted with in the media world. When is a vehicle considered intelligent and how long will it be before the driver finally becomes a passenger?? (photo: cybrain / shutterstock.Com)

Smart cars at a glance

Definition: a smart car is a vehicle that has technologies to autonomous and without a human driver to move.

Functionality: by means of sensor technology in the form of cameras, radar sensors and gPS

Advantagesenvironmentally friendly, traffic-safe, enabling mobility

Disadvantagesliability in the event of an accident unresolved, hacker attacks possible

While the legal framework for self-driving cars is still being discussed in many places, it was possible to test a driverless bus at cebit. There is no steering wheel and no driver. Only one safety attendant was on board for emergencies. the collector’s cab safely took visitors through the exhibition hall. Equipped with numerous sensors and cameras, the vehicle can effortlessly avoid obstacles.

Intelligent vehicles, smart cars, autonomous driving, all topics that people are increasingly confronted with in the media world. When will a vehicle be considered intelligent and how long will it be before the driver finally becomes a passenger??

Definition: what is a smart car?

Under one smart car a smart car is a vehicle that has the technical capability to move around in its own environment autonomous to behave. The automated driving, without the intervention of a human driver represents the highest level of autonomous driving. Like an airplane, the car moves in autopilot mode. Acceleration, steering and braking maneuvers are performed automatically.

All this works through digital, "smart" networking. The vehicle is in contact with other road users and various data sources via radio or WLAN. Data aggregated from the environment is processed by the computer so that it can make decisions on its own. Acceleration, braking and steering are taken over by the vehicle. Thanks to intelligent algorithms, obstacles can also be detected more quickly than a human being could.

How does a smart car work??

The technology of a smart car is based on the cooperation of different sensors. The most important are several cameras, which are directed into all perspectives. They detect the current, real-life situation as well as traffic signs, traffic lights and other road users.

In conjunction with radar sensors the distance to surrounding objects can be measured. A GPS system serves to plan the route and locate the vehicle in its environment.

The sensor technology detects the environment will be provided by the smart car’s software categorized. In this way, the lane, traffic signs and, of course, people can be recognized as such and responded to accordingly.

What are the five stages of autonomous driving??

In the development of smart cars, we talk about the five levels of autonomy, depending on how independently the vehicle is driven.

Autonomy level 1:

The first stage is called "assisted driving" and is currently the most prominent on our roads. These include the common driving assistance systems like cruise control to regulate a desired speed or automatic lane keeping assistants. These set off warnings and, depending on the model, intervene to a certain extent in the process by keeping the vehicle in a lane.

This level is characterized by the fact that the driver must have the car under control at all times, i.e. must follow the traffic closely. The driver is merely supported by the assistance systems, but they do not take over the driver’s tasks.

Autonomy level 2:

A vehicle of the autonomy level 2 moves partially automated fort. This includes systems for automatic parking, lane keeping or acceleration. Certain tasks can be performed by the car, but the driver is responsible and liable for accidents.

Autonomy level 3:

Into the 3. Autonomy level, the highly automated driving, it is a big step. The car is able, certain processes over a certain period of time independently execute. The use of such vehicles on highways is conceivable in the near future. There is no oncoming traffic and the markings are also continuous, so they can be easily detected by a computer system. In this stage, the driver is allowed to turn his attention away from the road. However, he must be able to take over the wheel at any time.

autonomy level 4:

If the control of the vehicle relinquished over a longer period of time and certain journeys can be carried out independently, we speak of the fully automated driving.

The passengers of the car are allowed to completely avert their attention while driving and also sleep. you are not liable for accidents or damages. However, it can happen that they may have to take over the tax. If this is not possible, the vehicle drives itself to a safe location. this stage of development is currently being investigated by numerous car manufacturers, but also apple or google.

Autonomy level 5:

Smart cars are among the 5. Stage: autonomous driving. The occupants of the vehicle no longer perform any tasks. The intelligent software takes over all tasks to complex situations, such as driving through an intersection or stopping in front of a crosswalk. If an accident occurs despite the complex technology, the manufacturer or an insurance company is liable. To date, there is no binding legal framework for the operation of such vehicles on public roads.

What is the current state of the art in the development of smart cars?

Vehicles of the autonomy levels 1 and 2 are already on the road germany on the road. Cruise control, lane departure warning and automated parking systems have long since arrived in our cars. Vehicle manufacturer audi meets conditions of the third autonomy level with the traffic jam assistant of the A8. However, the assistant has not yet been approved. Mercedes is working on achieving level five: autonomous driving.

These are the current smart cars of the major corporations:

  • Mercedes urbanetic
  • Renault symbioz
  • Smart EQ
  • Audi A8
  • VW I.D. Buzz

For the operation of smart cars it is certain infrastructure necessary. Traffic signs, markings and road layouts must be prepared for this further development. Communication between the vehicles must also be made possible. The Siemens Group is working on preparing the transport infrastructure for the digital networking of participants. A fully autonomous model is already driving on one of the company’s test routes.

On a german autobahn, there are currently Trucks connected via WLAN. You are driving in a convoy. The driver of the first vehicle enters the destination into the system, and the other trucks follow automatically and autonomously. In berlin, tests are currently being carried out local buses traveling without drivers. However, these are only capable of traveling at a speed of 15 km/h on a pre-programmed route.

The vehicles are not yet safe enough to move from A to B without human supervision. Work is therefore being done on the further development of an autopilot.

How quickly will smart cars become established?

We can only speculate about how long it will take before autonomous smart cars are the only vehicles on our roads.

According to a study by the automobile club ADAC (introduction of automation functions in the car fleet 2018) the new technologies of automated driving will only slowly become established in everyday life. It is expected that the proportion of vehicles whose drivers can completely turn away from driving will not increase to around 70 % until 2050. The first smart cars suitable for road traffic and everyday use are expected to appear from 2030 onward. According to this study, by the middle of the 21st century, the number of. In addition to automated vehicles, conventional models will still be on the road at the end of the 21st century.

What are the advantages of smart cars?

From the point of view of the environmental protection and sustainability road traffic with smart cars brings significant advantages compared to current CO2 emissions. Vehicles with electric motors can be powered by electricity from renewable sources such as hydroelectricity or wind power. If these cars are also equipped with driving assistance systems or capable of autonomous driving, intelligent storage and energy management can save a great deal of electricity.

Not only the environment, but also people will be supported by smart cars. The most frequent cause of accidents is still the human factor. Autonomous, networked vehicles promise to use complex software to predict obstacles or to avoidance of traffic accidents. This could significantly reduce the number of people injured in road traffic.

Autonomous vehicles make driving so to speak barrier-free. People with illnesses, disabilities or elderly people will be given the opportunity to become more independent through self-driving cars. Furthermore, the research and development of smart cars is expected to lead to strong economic growth and the creation of jobs.

Advantages of smart cars

What are the disadvantages of smart cars?

Despite these many advantages, one should also be aware of the risks that smart car technology poses. Users of autonomous vehicles must be aware at all times that only an small error in the software to a momentous accident can lead. In this situation, the question of liability arises.

Who is liable in the event of a traffic accident?, in which only automated vehicles were involved and people were injured? The current road traffic regulations (stvo) are based on the principle that a human being is at the wheel. Case law also relates to people. Because of this, the law of road traffic would have to be completely revised. In addition, the question of who can be held responsible in the event of an accident must be addressed.

After all, all systems that are digitally networked – smart cars, but also smart homes – are the goal of hackers. They dial into the software without authorization in order to manipulate it. Data protection experts believe that too little attention is being paid to this problem in particular.

How to protect against attacks on smart car systems?

Theoretically, smart cars should be able to move correctly without digital networking with the outside world. Even in the case of a disconnected connection, the safety for all road users be guaranteed.

Of course, all autonomous vehicles are connected to the internet to communicate with each other. This makes it easier to react to traffic and obstacles and to prevent accidents. This technology does not necessarily increase the risk of attack by hackers. A smart car is just as susceptible to viruses as a modern computer.

In order to be protected from outside attacks, first of all the comprehensive dealing with the manufacturer’s safety settings necessary. This should be in the best case regularly current updates provide for the software used. Another useful feature is the replacement with other car owners.

For the so called smart-car-WLAN in connection with own devices the application of a virtual private network (VPN) to. This prevents an outside party from gaining access to the vehicle via the smartphone. The connections are encrypted through the VPN. The bluetooth function of a car is considered a potential security vulnerability and should therefore be deactivates be if it is not used.

Legal situation: who is liable in the event of an accident with a smart car?

The legal situation regarding accidents with smart cars is controversial. currently: in the event of an accident with cars of autonomy levels one and two, the driver is to be held responsible.

With highly automated driving, the driver is only liable if he or she has not complied with the request to take over the driving task communicated to him or her by the car in a critical situation. Since there is theoretically no longer a driver in fully automated and autonomous driving, the passengers are not at fault in the event of an accident. The manufacturer assumes liability. The ethical question remains.

Ethical questions about smart cars and autonomous driving

While the technical development of smart cars is extremely complex, the most difficult task lies in finding answers to ethical questions. It must be considered whether such decisions, in which the value of a human life is judged, may be made at all. In experiments with people, where over 40 million decisions have already been documented, different findings have been identified.

It is obvious that damage to property is hierarchically subordinate to personal injury. Most decisions also state that a human life is more important than that of an animal. For many test subjects, it is important to save the lives of many, rather than individuals. Women and children are more likely to be spared than men, age must be subordinate to youth. The greatest dilemma is caused by the situation in which one has to decide about one’s own life versus that of another person.

In 2016, an ethics committee discussed the "necessary ethical guidelines for automated and connected driving," and published a final report containing 20 ethical rules. It states that the qualification of people according to personal characteristics is inadmissible, that damage to property always takes precedence over personal injury, and that the system must always have a positive risk balance.

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