Autonomous cars are going to make huge strides over the coming decades. In 2025, 4% of passenger cars will be autonomous. Ten years later, no less than three quarters of the international vehicle fleet will consist of autonomous cars. As an innovation expert, Technolution is participating in the European AUTOPILOT project, which is paving the way for the advent of the autonomous car.
Internet of Things
The AUTOPILOT project is primarily an automation project. The ever-increasing connectivity of humans and machines has led to new insights. Previously, autonomous cars were regarded as fully autonomous robots that would find their way through the traffic without any outside assistance. Nowadays, autonomous cars are seen much more as things connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). Cars are connected in countless ways: with sensors and roadside cameras, with traffic control centers, with GPS systems, and with other vehicles.
Talking traffic is when every object on and alongside the road communicates with every other object. Autonomous cars constantly receive information about traffic congestion, incidents, road works, and other things that can be important. They communicate at high speed with vehicles behind and in front of them about intermediate distances, and they can travel along highways at high speed in compact platoons.
Connected, cooperative, autonomous
Many cars are already connected to the IoT, for instance through their navigation system or electronic theft prevention system. A recent development is cooperative driving: cars pick up signals and information from systems along the side of the road, and the drivers then adjust their driving behavior. Technolution’s FlowRadar system uses this method to warn cars of queues and incidents on the road. The last step is fully autonomous driving. The driver will still have final control, but the car is capable of driving autonomously, i.e. of finding its own way using the IoT.
A two-way street
The connectivity of autonomous cars works in two directions. Autonomous cars themselves can also provide information, for instance to a traffic control center. In AUTOPILOT, Technolution is researching the various ways in which this kind of data can be enriched and made useful for traffic management. One important aspect is the integration of the enriched data into the traffic control center’s operating software. Technolution is using the test environment of MobiMaestro for this. This is the traffic management platform that the majority of Dutch traffic control centers currently use. The data provided by autonomous cars can provide traffic control centers with the latest information, allowing them to create calmer traffic conditions and better flow.