June 27, 2011

EU semi-automated driving system - the volkswagen Temporary Autopilot by 2016 for production vehicles

The EU "Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport" project (HAVEIt), which was launched in 2008 to investigate automated driving solutions, has produced a semi-automated driving system German automaker Volkswagen has unveiled a "temporary auto pilot" function which can drive its vehicles semi-automatically and could be a feature of production vehicles within the next five years. Temporary Autopilot (TAP) can handle the cars at speeds of up to 130 km/h on the highway, Volkswagen said, keeping the car on the correct course and at the right distance from the vehicle ahead.

It uses systems commonly found on modern cars, such as lane departure sensors, collision radars and cruise control, to provide what Volkswagen describes as a "link between today’s assistance systems and the vision of fully automatic driving."

By computing information fed to it from a variety of sensors, including radar, camera and ultrasound sensors, as well as laser scanners, a vehicle on "Pilot Mode" can drive at a driver-selected speed, slowing for vehicles ahead, reducing speed before a bend and maintaining the car's central position on the road.

However, Volkswagen stresses that the driver remains in absolute control and must continue to monitor their journey, keeping focused and able to intervene if a safety-critical situation were to arise.



Highly Automated Driving

Safety can be improved by the three factors: infrastructure, vehicle and driver. Recent accident analysis has shown that the driver is responsible for 97% of all accidents.

Two measures for driver improvements can be considered:

* Improving reliability of the driver e.g. by feedback monitoring.
* Increasing substitution of the driver both on “middle & long-term” - corresponding to higher degree of automation with first demonstrations like in Chauffeur and on “short-term” – meaning intervention in critical scenarios.

One of the key issues is the definition of the optimum way for sharing the driving task between the driver and the highly automated system. If the driver is being allowed to be out of the loop for a few seconds, he or she needs to get a few seconds time to get back into the loop and to react properly (i.e. to continue driving) in case the highly automated system faces a scenario that cannot be handled automatically. Current state of the art systems and other research systems warn the driver in such cases and just switch off, thus leaving the driver alone in the critical situation. HAVEit will follow a novel approach to overcome this problem. A step-wise strategy (starting sufficiently in advance of an up-coming situation that might not be handled automatically) will be developed to give the driving task step by step back to the driver, to ensure that the driver is really capable to suitably react to the driving situation. Due to its safety relevance, the optimum task repartition in the joint system driver / co-pilot has been identified as the first key objective of HAVEit and is considered as a horizontal activity.

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