Bosch Claims AV Shuttles That Solve Problems

Bosch claims it has developed an autonomous shuttle that can fault check itself when on-board systems fail.

The automotive supply giant says its Project 3F delivers “driverless and fault-tolerant vehicles in the low-speed range”. The project team focused on making enabling the system not fail completely in the event of a fault but rather that the vehicle can continue to drive. With €4.3M ($4.7M) in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs, the project featured Bosch as the consortium leader and involved StreetScooter, RA Consulting, the FZI Research Center for Information Technology, Finepower and RWTH Aachen University.

One solution the project developed was to build in the ability to duplicate safety-relevant functions. For example, the researchers developed redundant systems for the power supply so that the electrical powertrain and vehicle electrical system are reliably protected. They also adapted and refined the sensor technology to suit the vehicle design. In order to reliably detect obstacles, they installed several LiDAR and radar sensors at various points around the vehicle, giving it the ability to observe its surroundings from different positions. By delivering a 360-degree birds-eye view and avoiding blind spots, this creates a kind of 3D protection zone. This setup not only detects obstacles on the road, such as barriers, it also spots things like hanging branches.

In addition, the project worked to ensure that shuttle buses can also react to altered circumstances along their defined route. The vehicles are programmed to slow down when any moving objects approach or, in case of doubt, to give unknown objects a wide berth. When they identify familiar landmarks such as streetlights, on the other hand, they resume their journey at full speed. If there is any imminent danger, the shuttle will come to a precautionary stop. The objective is for the vehicle to adapt its driving behavior to the circumstances in real time while also continuing on its journey automatically whenever possible, even in the event of system malfunctions or obstacles in its path.

Steffen Knoop, project leader in research and advance engineering at Bosch, said: “The aim was to develop solutions to ensure that automated shuttles can move around safely, even if a technical malfunction occurs or obstacles suddenly appear.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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