Autonomous cars: when are we just passengers?


For years, we talk about Autonomous, self-driving vehicles. On the streets we can’t see them. But just be patient, something is happening. A Prognosis.

We are – to put it mildly – in a small traffic chaos. And we don’t mean the lack of jam in the evening rush hour, but the mobility of the future: car sharing, electric cars and Autonomous Driving are currently the largest construction sites in the automotive industry and the transport policy. You all should help make the transport as safe as possible, environmentally-friendly and congestion-free flow.

In terms of car-sharing that works quite well. The number of customers in Germany has increased over the past year to 2.46 million, a statement from the Federal Association Carsharing (bcs), an increase of almost 17 percent. And also electric cars buzz gradually more common on the German roads. According to the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt both electric as well as hybrid vehicles to the beginning of the year showed a “significant increase”.

The dream of driverless Driving

What sounds like music of the future: Autonomous, self-driving cars, which – if necessary – all alone on the roads. However, this is not a technological progress that happens over night.

Also, if not daily, more developments are announced, the Autonomous Driving is still at the top of the Agenda of the automobile manufacturers. This was demonstrated recently by the merger of VW and Ford, as well as the Joint Venture of Daimler and BMW, have chosen the beginning of 2019 for the joint development of computer-controlled cars.

But it’s not just car manufacturers, even search engine companies such as Google, mobile phone companies and various Startups tinkering on the Autonomous car. The Swedish Start-up Einride, for example, sent in this year as the first fully Autonomous electric Truck on the road.

T-Pod electric truck that commutes between two warehouses of the forwarding agent DB Schenker in Jönköping, in order to deliver Goods is. Without a driver, and the same without the leader of the house. The approval of the electrical load has received the car in March 2019 by the Swedish transport authority. This came, after examination, to the conclusion that the T-Pod was able to drive in Accordance with the Swedish traffic rules. Since then, the Autonomous Truck uses a public road in the industrial area.

On the road, Autonomous vehicles will not be allowed, unless there is special authorization, such as in this test field in Karlsruhe, Germany

However, when the T-Pod does its Job so far, flawlessly, is the Autonomous Truck is still a pilot project. His road to authorisation is limited until the end of 2020.

Autonomous Driving: Where are we today?

Technologically, the industry has arrived To the Autonomous test vehicles are already on the road worldwide. The self-driving cars without special permits on the roads, is, however, unthinkable.

Since 2017 short-HAF, or “piloted Driving is permitted in Germany is the “highly automated Driving”,”.

This step corresponds to the third Level on the way to the fully automated car. The car industry and the Society of Automotive Engineers (short: SAE, German “Association of automotive engineers”) has reached an agreement on the development of Autonomous driving, on a five-tier System (see info graphic).

Each level and each Level represents a different degree of automation, the extent to which the vehicle can take over the tasks of the driver.

The third stage means that the car takes the journey almost complete, responsibility remains with the driver. That is, he must be able to intervene to any Situation. But: as soon As the driver puts his Car into the highly automated mode, he may turn away his attention from the road. He could read the newspaper or the children on the back seat turn.

The vehicle is sufficient to cope with intelligent, everyday situations alone – Steering, braking and alerts for critical situations are included. Nevertheless, the System is designed so that the driver can override the system anytime you wish. Level 3 is particularly intended for use on highways.

Automation: Level 3 rolls

Vehicles with this degree of automation is not, however, see on the roads. Theoretically, the traffic jam assistant meets in the Audi A8 by 2018, the requirements, since it controls in a traffic jam on the highway the car without assistance from the driver up to a speed of 60 km/h, this function, however, is not yet approved.

The introduction of the traffic jam pilot “requires for each individual country in addition to the clarity of the legal framework conditions and specific adaptation and testing of the system,” says Audi. In addition, worldwide, there are different admission procedures and to be aware of your deadlines. Therefore, the traffic-jam pilot will be brought step by step depending on the legal situation in the respective country in the series.

And the Rest of it? Mercedes-Benz plans to launch its Level 3-performance in the coming year. BMW wants to catch up to 2021, Ford and Volvo want to then show off even with Level 4 autonomy.

The biggest challenges

But when we travel because now Autonomous? The complexity of this question are often displayed in a very shortened, writes the Prognos research Institute in the study “introduction of automation capabilities in the passenger Car fleet: the impact on inventory and security”. Serious statements to be only under various General assumptions possible.

The researchers have in their study of the Autonomous four main barriers To be identified: Legal aspects, technological maturity, moment of inertia of the fleet and infrastructure expansion.

This is a whole series of factors are subordinate to the current national and international law, the renewal cycles of technologies, data networks, Surveillance and, not least, ethical questions. In particular, there will probably never be correct answers. In 2018, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (mit) made the first attempt and with their morality Machine for debate.

The Online game of the WITH the subjects in front of different traffic situations, where you have to decide

Questions, questions

The researchers confronted subjects in an Online game with different situations. They had to choose for in their eyes, reasonable accidental damage: Over I the pensioner, the crosses in Red the road, or I’m going against the concrete wall, which endangers the occupants of my car, including children?

The majority of respondents would prefer to spare children than older people. And most of the would – given the choice – more animals run over as people.

With the data, the researchers of the WITH tried to find out what ethics of self-driving could be programmed to cars in the future. But so far there is no solution, only the moral Dilemma.

Forecast: half full or half empty

In the case of the Prognos researchers, however, there is a result, albeit a very vague. In their study, for the Autonomous circuit To conclude that automated Driving will only be implemented slowly, perhaps to nobody’s surprise.

“In the year 2050 about half of the vehicles will have an automation function. In most cases, this will be only on highways usable,” it says. While on the car, a good 40 percent of the driving performance of cars could be automated, be performed, be it on country roads yet less than four percent.

Prognos provides two estimates, one pessimistic, one optimistic. In the best case, increasing the proportion of new vehicles in which the driver on all of the highways completely from the task of Driving can avert, from 2.4 per cent in 2020, to 70 percent in 2050.

From 2030 on, then the Car with a City-pilots – that is, the ability to drive both on the highway and in the city alone – would show up gradually on the streets. And after 2040 will be offered in a larger number of cars that come fully Autonomous door-to-door, including country roads, no driver need.

“A significant penetration of vehicles, which can travel in the entire network automated, is expected until after 2050”, predict the researchers.

So, as I said: patience, it is what is going on.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    Journey from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas

    This Audi A7 is full of Sensors. In the beginning of 2015, the car drove on its own all the way from Silicon Valley to the technology fair CES in Lag Vegas. 900 kilometers long, the Road-Trip on the Highway. The tax man was for emergency use only – not had to intervene, he in this journey.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    Really cosy!

    This prototype Mercedes-Benz to bear the name F015 and shows in all Konequenzen, such as an Autonomous car could look like: A driver’s seat is superfluous. Instead, look at all the occupants during the ride, and comfortably entertained. This research vehicle was developed in Silicon Valley. Its maximum speed is currently 200 km/h.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    Nothing for the impatient types

    Actually, Autonomous vehicles are very safe. They are programmed to slow down in case of doubt, rather the journey. You have to comply with the predetermined safety distance, and endanger other road users is not due to aggressive driving maneuvers, such as this racer.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    Comfortable always running out of time

    These two Autonomous car at the University of the Federal armed forces in Munich, we are Very relaxed, a car drives in front, the other behind follows faithfully, always. You can find your way even in rough terrain, on Paths that you had not previously known. The Exercise shows on the ELROB robot competition 2012.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    This would not have been necessary

    To such a mass Billiards, if people are driving too fast, poor visibility and not enough safety distance. Wisely, built robot cars would not make such errors. Many of them were networked, you could even send her a mile in advance signals to the following cars: caution traffic jam!

  • The car thinks the car steers

    Sensors for all-hazards types of

    Robot cars that can use different eyes, to recognize their environment. A Google-designed Autonomous car uses, for example, such a laser sensor. The spin and its environment is scanned with a laser beam in three dimensions.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    The real world of Laser vision

    And this is how it looks then: The wagons of the University of the Bundeswehr driving through rough terrain. The Laser creates a three-dimensional map, which he einfüttert in the Computer. You can even take on the perspective of an outsider and the car at the time of his journey of discovery to watch.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    Orientation by satellite, Radar and eye

    The robot can Orient itself with many other agents in the field. For example, with optical eye as standard USB-camera, or little Radar Sensors. Also, the determination of position via satellite is for cars important – about GPS-data.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    Seeing cars – future technology from Germany

    With optical cameras, researchers working at Daimler. For the invention of cars see you were nominated in 2011 for the German future prize. This camera is mounted behind the windshield of a medium-class car. Attention you what is happening on the street followed.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    From the image points of movement

    The optical camera detects first of all, thousands of image points called a point cloud. From the movement of individual image points we calculated vectors so movement arrows. Various vectors are of different lengths. This results in the on-Board computer prior to designing a complex motion of the image of the traffic and next to the car.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    Slow down or Dodge?

    By the on-Board computer, the vectors filters out the run at the travel speed of the cars is unusual, he can detect hazard: A pedestrian runs from the right front of the car and is highlighted in orange. In the Background another car away. The movement points are green – no danger. So the car can react if the driver is inattentive.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    Who decides – Computer or human?

    The technology would be so far. But the question of whether robots should autonomously be on the transport is released, provides politicians and lawyers are confronted with difficult ethical questions: Who is responsible if a robotic car causes an accident: the manufacturer, the Software programmer, the owner or the driver? And how it looks outside of the normal street traffic?

  • The car thinks the car steers

    If it is too dangerous for human beings

    For example, in the war – if you want to transport Material from one place to another. Or after a chemical or nuclear accident, if the contaminated area for people is too dangerous. For developers to build Autonomous vehicles that can meet today’s practical tasks, such as here at the Polish military Academy.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    A showcase of Autonomous robots

    At the Polish military Academy in Warsaw, the European robot competition ELROB took place in the summer of 2014. For five days, were able to measure such Autonomous vehicles. This Transporter of the Swiss RUAG was first presented in 2012 in Thun, Switzerland.

  • The car thinks the car steers

    Hands off the wheel!

    A vehicle drives without a driver on a booby trap, though the technique is broken, but at least not a human to come to harm. At the ELROB Exercise, however, someone had to sit in the cab to press the Emergency stop button if something goes wrong.

    Author: Fabian Schmidt