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THE VIEW Connected Vehicles Richard Bishop


The race to produce the first commercially available autonomous car is hotting up


richard.bishop@mindspring.com; www.auvsi.org; www.vehicleautomation.org Follow Richard at #ThinkingCarsH3B


W


hile USDOT develops their automation strategic plan and automation working


groups continue deliberations in Europe and Japan, the auto industry continues to amp up the pace of automated driving technology development. Automated driving functions are now firmly established as a competitive discriminator for the car-makers and the temperature keeps rising. In September, on the hot tarmac of


El Toro, a former Marine Air Corps Station, Nissan’s N360 event showcased a range of technologies, including first- ever automaker showings. As their first large press event on automated driving, they pulled out all the stops. For a highway driving scenario, a Nissan Leaf equipped with laser scanners and video cameras entered the highway, drove at highway speeds, performed a lane change for slower traffic ahead, adapted to construction barrels closing a lane, exited the highway, and waited for a traffic signal to turn green at the end of the ramp before proceeding. Another scenario showed a very mature version of automated valet parking – quite possibly a near-term application. Who wouldn’t want to step out of their car at the entrance to the shopping center and send it away to park itself with a tap on their smartphone, summoning it back later when laden with purchases? Even more ground-breaking was


first-ever showings of urban driving in an OEM press event: the Nissan Leaf approached a four-way stop with other vehicles present and took turns appropriately. Te automated Leaf also encountered a vehicle parked so as


North America Vol 8 No 3 Richard Bishop is principal of Bishop Consulting and Associate Editor of Thinking Highways North America


to partially block its lane – emulating the unpredictable nature of driving in dense city centers. Using 360 degree sensing, the automated vehicle checked for oncoming traffic in the other lane before safely proceeding.


CLIMB ABOARD! Yes, of course – all of this has been demonstrated before by academics and research labs. You can watch YouTube videos of this all day long. But when demonstrated by an automaker in a marquee press event, it is highly significant from a market perspective. At the highest levels, the corporation is embracing a future of automated driving. In fact, at the event Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer promised “commercially viable autonomous drive vehicles on global roads by 2020” and within two vehicle life cycles, making that technology available across the entire model range. Teir motivation? Autonomy fits squarely within their two key pillars of zero emissions and zero fatalities. With this event Nissan joined the


“Automakers Developing Automation” club, whose membership is growing steadily. And Nissan is not alone in making news lately. Te latest version of GM’s Super Cruise (supervised highway driving) was showcased at almost the same time, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk put months of speculation to rest by announcing their plans to introduce “auto-pilot” within the next three years. Musk said Tesla’s autonomous car would “allow the driver to hand 90 per cent of the control of the car over to the vehicle’s computer system.” And


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prep your resumé – they’ve posted a job ad for an Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Controls Engineer to step up for a very short time scale project. In the hype contest, it appears Tesla


❝ Google


continues to be very non- specific when talking about self-driving cars; in fact Sergey Brin’s statement could be pointing to automated shuttle buses





has jumped ahead of Google, whose co-founder Sergey Brin said they would have autonomous vehicles available to the general public within five years – that was in 2012. Te Tesla statement beats Google by a year. Google continues to be very non-specific when talking about self-driving cars; in fact Brin’s statement could be pointing to automated shuttle buses. If it happens on Tesla first, it will almost certainly be on their snazzy jewel of a passenger car. Time will tell, but at least we won’t have to wait too long.


DON’T JUST STAND THERE... For transportation agencies, is there anything to do other than stand by the roadside and watch, to borrow from Shelley Row’s article elsewhere in this issue? Absolutely! Planning for connected automation will enable unprecedented efficiencies in traffic flow. As Shelley points out, there’s a key set of data that only the public agencies have – traffic signal phase and timing. Researchers within the automotive


labs are busy perfecting camera- based systems to detect these signals, determine which signal applies to their car’s lane, and proceed accordingly. But for greater robustness, this data would best be presented in a data stream as well. It doesn’t necessarily need to be done via DSRC; for most applications vehicles can pull data quickly enough from the Internet via the cellular network. Te public sector needs to begin a major initiative to provide this critical data to the cloud. Upload!


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