Autonomous Vehicles – The next generation of automobiles. By Olivia Hughes



Autonomous vehicles appear throughout history, from science fiction to self-driving systems in planes, trains and ships. Now, the race is on to bring full autonomy to commercially available cars. This complex vision formed the premise of the latest CW Automotive and Transport SIG.

The roar of racecar testing at Silverstone Circuit set the scene as delegates arrived for the Automotive and Transport SIG entitled ‘the road to the autonomous vehicle’.  Focusing on the risks and rewards of intelligent vehicles, industry leaders discussed the essential systems, beneficial outcomes and security challenges in autonomous technology.

Despite profound safety, security and legal challenges in the evolving automotive industry, interest and investment in autonomous innovation is fueling the progression through the five stages of autonomy. From my perspective, the SIG clearly reflected the immense interest and activity surrounding smart cars. Following the event, I aim to summarise some exciting realities about the next generation of automobiles.


Transformative Benefits

While the future of fully autonomous vehicles is still unfolding with the progression through the five stages of autonomy, it is increasingly apparent that self-driving cars will transform society.

  • Replacing the human driver with intelligent technology and 360 degree perception brings significant improvements in automotive safety reducing human error, which is responsible for 90% of auto accidents.
  • Robotic systems provide continuous attentiveness and endurance, combating the risks introduced by unpredictable driving behaviours and distraction.
  • Optimised traffic flow regulated by sensors will allow more cars on the road, reducing traffic times, and fuel consumption.
  • Everyone will be able to drive, restoring mobility and freedom for impaired individuals or those without licences.
  • Smart parking will add efficiency and reduce tedious tasks. The car could look for a space for itself after dropping you off.
  • The utility of an autonomous commute will allow individuals to spend the time on other things while on the road.


Essentials for Autonomous Vehicles

To begin improving the lives of millions driverless cars must be infused with complex technology, ultra-reliability and many more future-oriented requirements.

  • Velocity – Cameras, lasers, radar and sensors perceive the environment and detect traffic flow, acceleration and deceleration to ensure velocity control.
  • Range – Lidar light detection and ranging technology generate a 360-degree picture of the surroundings to provide real-time 3D ranging and distance measurements.
  • v2v + v2i – A combination of vehicle-to-vehicle (v2v) communication and device integration will enable future cars to communicate with each other. In addition, vehicles will interact with roadside wireless sensor networks and smart-highway applications via vehicle to infrastructure (v2i) capabilities.
  • Big Data and eCall – The autonomous vehicle is a data-collection engine of embedded computers, wireless network interfaces and smart connectivity. These capabilities enable data to be used to provide integrated driver information, predictions, platoon control and rapid safety assistance through automated eCall alerts.
  • Advanced Security – As smart cars become more connected and GPS dependent they become highly vulnerable to cyberattacks, jammers and spoofing. Cyber threat must be treated as a functional safety threat and GPS navigation should be augmented with other technologies to mitigate hackability risks.

Auto SIG

About The Author

Liv Hughes
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