If we want an autonomous car, we need smart infrastructure. As simple on paper as complicated in practice. The coexistence between human-driven vehicles and fully autonomous cars remains the biggest challenge we face.
Gaining ground. Little by little, semi-autonomous driving systems are gaining ground. Starting this year, all new cars that are homologated in the European Union must have a good handful of ADAS aids, among which is an intelligent speed limiter (ISA) or emergency braking.
The unexpected. Semi-autonomous driving systems have shown that the real difficulty of these aids lies in contemplating all the variables that can occur on a street or on a highway. In fact, manufacturers have confirmed that one of the real impediments to advancing this technology is in the number of possibilities that a vehicle can find.
The lack of foresight of how a vehicle driven by a human is going to behave is a barrier that, for the moment, has expelled semi-autonomous driving systems from large cities. A car that skips a traffic light, a cyclist that moves through traffic or a pedestrian that crosses a prohibited site, the stimuli are so many that, for the moment, automations in town are few.
controlled environment. In fact, the first autonomous cars that already operate in the United States do so in a restricted space, mapped and studied to the millimeter by companies such as Cruise or Waymo. Also, these cars cannot operate in low visibility conditions, such as storms, fog, and for much of the night.
Something similar happens on the road. Mercedes has announced level three automation systems for its future vehicles, which means that the driver can stop paying attention to the surroundings. However, the use of them will be very restricted, such as a maximum limit of 64 km / h (40 mph), an environment mapped by the company and that there are no traffic lights on the road.
First project. What Mercedes is basically proposing is to restrict its most advanced autonomous driving systems to spaces designed by and for autonomous cars. This same idea is what Cavnue will develop in Michigan. The company has raised $130 million to begin building a corridor for autonomous and connected vehicles on a high-speed highway.
In the United States they have already proposed a project to carry out this type of infrastructure in which the road itself can communicate with cars to notify them of the traffic situation, possible weather problems or if there will be works on the road.
better if we talk about it. Communication, as the basis of any relationship, is one of the best ways to solve problems. A psychologist tells you and an engineer tells you. That the vehicles can talk to each other can guarantee fluid traffic, at high speed and without frights.
For this, it is necessary to provide the roads with 5G infrastructure, a technology that, moreover, is already being implemented in Spain and that will be used for the next advances of the DGT 3.0. Ford is also developing systems for ambulances to communicate with traffic lights and these open the way for them and close it to other drivers.
Photo | Cavenue
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism