When the first automobile was patented in 1886, the mere concept of a self-driving car was pure fantasy. Now we are only a few years from this fantasy becoming the standard.
Autonomous vehicles will change driving forever, and not simply by removing the need for human interaction. They will also make driving more enjoyable—and vastly safer. It is estimated that approximately 90% of vehicle accidents are caused by human error. Thanks to improvements in artificial intelligence (A.I.), cars will soon be able to think and make life-saving decisions by themselves. In fact, the self-driving software will be smarter and more reliable than even the most skilled human driver.
Self-driving cars: a definition
The title of ‘self-driving’ may seem self-evident, but there are actually five SAE Levels used to define autonomous driving. Lower SAE Levels feature basic driver assistance, whilst higher SAE Levels move towards vehicles requiring no human interaction whatsoever.
Some cars on the road today already incorporate Levels 1 and 2; automated functions such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and parking assistance. However, the driver must still retain control of the vehicle at all times.
SAE Level 3 is a vast improvement in vehicle intelligence. Under certain conditions, the driver is no longer required to monitor the surrounding environment. The vehicle can drive, navigate, and take its own emergency measures—provided the driver can assume control of the vehicle when prompted.
SAE Level 4 moves closer to complete autonomy. In the vast majority of situations and environments, the driver is no longer required to control the vehicle. The car can reliably drive, navigate, and make life-saving decisions without any human input. Level 4 still allows the driver to take manual control if preferred, or in specific circumstances.
SAE Level 5 represents the future of self-driving technology. Level 5 cars will be able to drive, make complex decisions, and take emergency measures all on their own. Cars in this category require no human input—and typically will not even feature steering wheels or foot pedals.
The challenge: designing vehicles that think for themselves
Simply put, advanced AI is needed to make self-driving cars a reality. Manufacturers require extremely powerful hardware coupled with AI systems which emulate—and exceed—human driving skills.
One challenge is the sheer amount of on-road testing needed to validate self-driving technology. Automated driving functions, in-car systems, and AI software all need to be rigorously tested and improved in order to bring this new technology to a worldwide market. Vehicles must demonstrate they can drive safely and take reliable emergency measures under unpredictable driving conditions. As a result, auto manufacturers have collected almost a billion miles of test driving data in the last five years alone. However—many more miles are required in order to truly validate the technology. To this end, manufacturers are also employing driving simulations to accelerate the testing process.
To help meet this challenge, Elektrobit (EB) has developed EB Assist, hardware and software products to successfully develop reliable automated and autonomous vehicles. This allows car makers to validate and improve their vehicles more quickly—and bring self-driving cars to market much sooner.
Elektrobit is at the forefront of self-driving software
With EB robinos, car makers can also access products, solutions, and dedicated engineering services to build key software components required to enable automated driving.
Within EB robinos, we enable vehicles to:
Collect environmental data and pinpoint the vehicle’s position within it
Create a real-time, 360-degree model of the vehicle’s stationery and moving surroundings
Produce an accurate vision of the road ahead, using high-definition maps and information provided by other vehicles on the road
Autonomous driving has a wide range of applications
Self-driving cars will do much more than replace typical day-to-day driving. Driverless vehicles will take many forms that have not yet been conceived by the public at large.
These will include:
- Public transportation, and specialized transport for children and senior citizens
- Ride-sharing and short-term vehicle rental
- Mobile item storage and security
- Short distance transport within offices, campuses, and hospitals
- Delivery of goods—both nationally and locally
Self-driving vehicles will benefit virtually every level of society. From safer driving to shorter commute times and a more enjoyable driving experience—EB is proud to be making autonomous driving a reality.
Elektrobit is a world leader in developing advanced software systems for the automotive industry. With over 30 years of development experience, EB works closely with the world’s biggest car makers to make vehicles smarter, safer—and more enjoyable to drive.