Fully automated driving is becoming a reality. digitization is changing the automobile, the way it is used and the industry itself.
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Is tesla a role model for apple and google?? read the article by fuw editor christian braun here.
Du-da-do. The triad evokes memories of postbus rides through magnificent mountain landscapes. In the back, the diesel engine, hard and loud, in the front the driver, who steers the car through tricky passages and sounds the triadic horn before each blind spot, which is supposed to be taken from the andante of the overture to gioachino rossini’s opera "wilhelm tell".
Change of scene: a whirring sound that goes on and off. An electrically driven postbus shuttle from the French manufacturer navya rolls through the old town of the Valais capital of sion at a maximum speed of 20 km/h. The vehicle for up to nine people is fully automated and has neither steering wheel nor pedals. Sensors read the road, detect obstacles and markings. A program from the start-up company bestmile – a spin-off from EPFL (ETH lausanne) – monitors and controls it.
This is not a distant vision of the future. the described will become reality next summer in the context of a two-year test. But it’s just the beginning of a development that will bring profound changes to the automotive and commercial vehicle industries. Cars and commercial vehicles are becoming "intelligent" – computer-controlled, self-driving, capable of learning. The change will shake up the industry. New players will appear, new thinking will take hold, new business models will emerge. Weights and weights will shift.
A new era begins
The vehicle of the future should be able to handle all traffic situations on its own. It will recognize its environment with all its movements, even anticipating them, and adapt to them. It will communicate with other vehicles, be networked with traffic infrastructure, learn from vast amounts of data and provide a wide range of digital services.
"the auto industry is ripe for a revolution, and it’s starting now," said bill ford ( F 9.6200 -1.23% ) , president of the group founded by his great-grandfather, at the web summit in dublin in november. "in the near future, historians will describe today as a turning point in the auto industry," predicts start-up developer bijan khosravi in an article for "forbes". "we are entering a new era," said carlos ghosn, CEO of nissan and renault ( RNO 26, with a grave expression.88 -30.11% ) , in october at the tokyo motor show.
Technology is available
safety is an important driver of development. According to google – the internet company that is itself working on a robot car – human error is involved in 94% of all traffic accidents in the u.s. Intelligent control technology should drastically reduce the number of accidents. The trend initiated with electronic safety and assistance systems is thus being systematically continued.
In addition to greater safety, the benefits of intelligent vehicles include easier mobility, more efficient use of resources and time savings. New ways to make better and more enjoyable use of time in the vehicle and to turn it into an extended living space or office are emerging from uncomfortable driving situations. "autonomous driving is not a question of if, but of when," daimler CEO dieter zetsche likes to be quoted as saying.
The fact that the auto industry is at a turning point is due to technology and its miniaturization. The level achieved makes many things possible that were unthinkable until recently. While people were still marveling at the first lane departure warning systems at the turn of the millennium, in May of this year journalists were driven through Shanghai to the consumer electronics show (CES) in a technology carrier piloted by audi.
The required sensor and camera technology, radar and lidar systems (a technology closely related to radar), but also maps as an important part of navigation have developed rapidly. The same applies at a higher level to data processing, system networking and the computing power that makes it all possible in the first place. Today’s smartphone has more computing power than the entire nasa had at its disposal in the 1969 moon landing year. And it costs practically nothing.
The hardware required for autonomous driving is largely available, according to a finding of the driverless world conference held by barclays ( BCY 2.4000 -0.29% ) , which took place in london at the beginning of september. High costs of individual components are the only technical hurdle, analysts at the British bank say, but they do not see this as a permanent obstacle. "technically, we’re ready," is therefore the message not only from BMW ( BMW 93.19 +0.85% ) .
Nine unresolved questions
– software: the complexity of the relationships to be programmed is extremely high (cf. main text).
– ethics: the programming of a fully autonomous vehicle can make the difference between life and death, for example when there is only a choice between two collision opponents (cf. main text).
– communications infrastructure: ultimately, all vehicles must be able to communicate with each other and with the traffic infrastructure. Appropriate systems are needed.
– data protection: what data enters a vehicle, under what conditions, and what data leaves the vehicle? Plus the question of who owns the data.
– law: many countries lack the legal basis for autonomous driving. Frameworks such as the vienna road traffic convention of 1968 need to be changed.
– liability: what are the responsibilities of drivers, manufacturers, insurers and service providers??
– maps: autonomous driving requires high-precision navigation maps.
– hacker attacks: systems integrated with internet communications need high levels of protection.
– safety of use and function: standardized methods are needed to validate safety of use and function.
Development in stages
Automakers see the road to the intelligent vehicle as a multi-stage process. In the first phase, driving is done without feet, then without hands, later without eyes, and finally without brain or brainlessness. attention (cf. Graphic 2). Automobiles from tesla ( TSLA 846.35 +2.08% ) can already be ordered with partially automated driving functions. Hands-free driving is possible, but not recommended. Older models can be upgraded via software update. Despite its weaknesses, the system, which can follow and change lanes on its own, works quite well, according to trade journals.
Not all manufacturers consider the final stage – the robotic car without self-driving capability – to be desirable. Google thinks differently. Like navya’s postbus shuttle, the google car, which is already being tested on public roads, has neither a steering wheel nor pedals. It remains to be seen whether the internet group will come to market with its own vehicle or only with an operating system like android for smartphones. Even the ideas of apple ( AAPL 170.33 +6.98% ) to the "ultimate mobile device" are not yet publicized.
While the hardware for autonomous driving may be ready, there are still some problems in the software. On the one hand, it is highly complex. 100 million. lines of programming are needed for an autonomous vehicle, says barclays, and compares this with 8 million lines of programming. For an airbus ( AIR 111.38 -2.66% ) A380 and 30 million. For the mercedes S-class, which already has a respectable level of automation.
On the other hand, the programming raises ethical questions. Who is preferred when an accident can no longer be avoided and there is only a choice between two opponents in a collision?? Between the child jumping into the street and the oncoming truck? Between the heavy off-road vehicle and the light small car?
In addition, there are various other points and questions that still need to be clarified and solved with a view to the next stages of development.
The industry is being reorganized
"digitalization is massively changing the rules for our industry," said harald kruger, CEO of the BMW group, in an interview with "auto motor und sport". This is true in several respects.
New players will enter the scene. Digitization is marrying the automotive sector with ICT (information and communications technology). ICT companies in particular will therefore enter the mobility market. Besides google and apple they can also do uber ( UBER 35.21 +3.29% ) , baidu ( BIDU 146.53 +1.95% ) or in other words.
Roads will also become smart
Not only vehicles are becoming intelligent. Roads will also change, freeing themselves from their passive existence as road surfaces and also becoming smart. Just being read by sensor-, radar- and camera-equipped automobiles and commercial vehicles is not enough. It should also provide data on its own.
The next generation of roads will measure, monitor and guide, adapt flexibly, repair themselves thanks to new materials and one day also serve as a source of energy. It goes without saying that in the future it will be built and maintained differently than today.
Adaptable, automated and resilient: this is how the forum of european highway research laboratories (FEHRL) – an association of more than thirty institutes and research centers – envisions the road of the future. The three main features are derived from the objective of making mobility safer, more efficient and more sustainable.
The road of tomorrow will be part of the mobility-oriented data flow and exchange. Road infrastructure, vehicles and traffic management are networked. Sensors embedded in the road surface record the volume of traffic and the condition of the road, while measuring devices record weather conditions and other factors. Via the network, the data flows continuously into the assistance and navigation systems of the road users to suggest new routes, adjust the speed of autonomously driving dangers or link them together via an "electronic drawbar.
In addition, the data feeds a flexible traffic management system. Lanes are automatically released for one or the other direction of travel, depending on demand. Adaptable light-emitting diodes embedded in the road show the way with arrows and lines, variable traffic signs adapt to the conditions.
The future road not only provides data, but also energy. Road surfaces made of solar cells are already undergoing tests. The piezoelectric road is even more interesting. It uses the piezoelectric effect discovered in 1880 by jacques and pierre curie, according to which electrical charge is generated by the mechanical deformation of certain materials – a well-known one is quartz.
Piezo derives from the ancient greek word for "to press" or "to squeeze. The pressure that vehicles put on the road can be used to generate electrical energy. In israel, piezoelectric sensors in roads are already generating electricity. In italy, the venice-trieste highway is to be equipped accordingly. There are big plans for california.
The electricity generated in this way will one day be used, among other things, to charge the batteries of electrically powered vehicles while they are on the road. This will be done – following the principle of the electric toothbrush – by means of electromagnetic induction. The deficits standing in the way of sales of electric vehicles – long charging times, short range – could be eliminated in one fell swoop. (CB.)