To recap from our last blog, Connected Vehicle Technology (CVT), allows vehicles to “talk” to each other and to roadway signs and other highway infrastructure. This technology “connects” vehicles and infrastructure by using wireless systems, similar to Wi-Fi, so they can communicate from vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and from vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) and vice versa.
Now let’s talk about Sensor-Based technology, the one pioneered by Google and with some aspects already found in some higher priced cars.
Quoting from Self-driving cars: The next revolution, Google has already logged over 200,000 miles of California traffic, including San Francisco’s winding streets and Los Angles’ knotted freeways, with a fleet of self-driving cars retrofitted with sensor systems.
These systems let cars see everything around them and make decisions concerning all aspects of driving. How? 64 spinning lasers gather 1.3 million points per second to create a virtual model of a car’s surroundings. And the points aren’t just other cars and signage. The system’s short-wavelength laser light also allows it to reflect non-metallic surfaces as well – like wooden power poles and, most importantly, humans.
Some manufacturers are already using variations of sensor systems. Lexus models use in-cabin cameras and Mercedes-Benz vehicles have steering sensors to detect drowsy-driving behavior.
Other big car manufacturers are researching sensor systems that would keep tabs on a driver’s health, including pulse, breathing and the driver’s sweat factor. When that information is fed into the computers that manage a car’s safety systems, it could enable a vehicle to better react to whatever challenges the road and traffic dish out.
All of these sensor-based systems offer varying degrees of assistance to the driver, but, in their current form, are not yet capable of providing self-driving experiences that are reliable and cost-efficient.
What’s missing is the convergence of sensor-based technologies and connected-vehicle communications to offer drivers (or riders) truly autonomous vehicles.
The convergence of communication and sensor-based technologies could deliver better safety, mobility, and self-driving capability than either approach could deliver on its own.
As Pri Mudalige, a researcher for General Motors’ Global R&D, puts it, “The V2V (Connected) technology…may simplify the all-sensor based automotive advanced driver-assist systems, enhance their performance and safety, and make them more cost effective.”
The convergence of these two technologies would reflect another step in the industry’s broader move toward self-driving cars, a brave new world in which computers could all but eliminate the driver as we know him or her.
For a more in-depth discussion of the convergence and sensor technology please go to http://www.edn.com/design/automotive/4368069/Automobile-sensors-may-usher-in-self-driving-cars and Self-driving cars: The next revolution.