ADAS is steering us towards driverless vehicles

Q: Why has ADAS technology suddenly taken off in the automotive industry?

“The main driver is that new technology, vis-à-vis computing power and sensor technology, has enabled this sector to grow over the last 10-15 years. In turn this presents a new market possibility for manufacturers to bring value to consumers who want to be assisted in some aspects of driving.

“Consumers are starting to value warning systems for collisions and the opportunity to use adaptive cruise control, both of which lead to low levels of self-driving capability.

“We are also seeing the emergence of a dialogue around autonomous vehicles growing among vehicle purchasers – a shift from the emergence of the technologies to the possibility of self-driving vehicles.”

Q: What are industry’s main focus on the areas of ADAS today?

“The starting point, really, has been lane-warning systems and also the blind-spot warning systems. Then autonomous emergency braking (AEB) has come about as a system that sees whether a collision is imminent and applies the brakes automatically. Now the dialogue is centred around which technologies are going to get us to fully autonomous vehicles first.

“This has led to us talking about self-steering vehicles and vehicles that intervene to stop you driving off the road with road departure systems which will soon be here and the emergence of advanced AEB systems to avoid pedestrians and cyclists.

“Other technologies will start coming in in the next five years or so but it will be a broad spectrum of technology that will be needed to get us to autonomous vehicles.”

Q: What are the wider implications for the fleet industry?

“The starting point here is that human drivers are so terrible at driving – most people don’t like to admit they make errors, which can lead to death and injury in some cases. We have had this passive safety revolution in the past few years but the next steps are systems to stop us having those crashes.

“The benefits are that we could reduce our accidents and casualties by an enormous factor that’s because statistics show that human factors contribute to about 90% of all crashes. This applies not just to big crashes but also, from an insurance point of view, to the low speed stuff that could, eventually, be eliminated completely.

“From a fleet perspective, not only would we have a better protection for employees and third-parties, there’ll be a big impact on operational costs by not having vehicles damaged and off the road not fulfilling their roles.”

Q: What will get us closer to that autonomous vehicle?

“I think the prospect of autonomous vehicles is very immediate right now and in the next few years we’ll see the emergence of motorway self-driving. This will be a feature, probably to begin with on a more expensive vehicle, while some of the volume manufacturers will try to bring it into their product ranges as an option. Once you have the technology for an Audi, then it will be easy enough to fit it to a Volkswagen for example.

“These technologies offer motorway driving as a simple situation probably with some level of human involvement, such as hands on the steering wheel or some guaranteed level of monitoring by the driver. But the vehicle will adaptively drive in traffic lanes and change lanes up to high speeds. We already have this on products for low speed traffic conditions so when a high speed version is rolled out by manufacturers in the next few years this will be the first time consumers will experience proper autonomous driving. An exciting time!”


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