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overview: autonomous driving autonomous driving: definition, level& basics

How does autonomous driving work and where does the development of the technology stand?? definition, the five levels of automation, examples and market forecasts – simply explained and at a glance!

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Autonomous driving is set to fundamentally change mobility and is one of the major topics of the future.

autonomous driving (english: autonomous driving) designates, according to a definition fully automated driving of a vehicle without a driver. The road ahead is referred to as automated driving described, in which various assistance functions gradually control the engine (acceleration), brakes and steering, respectively. Intervene in these systems. This article covers both autonomous and automated driving.

autonomous driving is one of the four "megatopics" of the automotive industry – the other three are electromobility, sharing economy and connectivity. Driving without a driver will radically change the car and the automotive industry, as well as the function of the car. Most automakers are very active in this area, as are automotive suppliers. In addition, new market players such as sensor and semiconductor manufacturers and mobile network operator competing with established companies in the automotive industry.

Stages (or levels) of autonomous driving

The SAE (scociety of automotive engineers) has defined five levels of automated or autonomous driving. autonomous driving defined. This classification has become established worldwide in the automotive industry.

  • Stage 0: no automation. Drivers steer, accelerate and brake themselves.
  • Stage 1: the car has individual support systems such as an antilock braking system (ABS) or electronic stability program (EPS) that intervene automatically.
  • Stage 2: automated systems take over partial tasks (e.g. B. Adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, automatic emergency braking). The driver, however, retains control of the vehicle and responsibility for it.
  • Level 3: the car can accelerate, brake and steer autonomously in some sections (conditional automation). If necessary, the system prompts the driver to take control.
  • Stage 4: in normal operation, the vehicle can drive fully autonomously. However, the driver has the possibility to intervene and "overrule" the system.
  • Stage 5: fully automated, autonomous vehicle operation without the possibility (and necessity) of driver intervention.

In this video, miklos kiss, head of pre-development driver assistance at audi, explains the five stages of automated driving.

autonomous driving: review

In 1968, the automotive supplier continental the press was presented with a test vehicle based on a mercedes 250 (W119), which drove driverless on the "contidrom" circuit in the luneburger heide region of germany. Lane guidance was provided by a guide wire; sensors supported navigation. The vehicle is designed to test tires under reproducible conditions.

Starting in 2004, the development of autonomous vehicles was significantly promoted by the DARPA Challenge, a competition for unmanned land vehicles organized by the U.S. Department of Defense.

What special forms of autonomous driving are there??

Commercial vehicle manufacturers are using autonomous driving systems to couple multiple trucks via an "electronic tow bar". The first truck will be driven by a driver (if necessary). Partially autonomously) controlled, following trucks drive in sync with the first vehicle and follow at a defined distance. This technology is known as "platooning".

Technology: sensors for autonomous driving

How does autonomous driving work?? Autonomous driving requires various types of assistance functions that interact in the higher expansion stages of the overall system. Examples include braking, congestion, lane departure, turning and parking assistants, as well as adaptive speed control. In addition, various sensor systems.

Autonomous vehicles must be equipped with systems for environment recognition. In addition to cameras, these passive systems include laser, ultrasonic, radar and/or lidar sensors for measuring distance and processing other information from the vehicle’s environment.

Autonomous driving requires different sensor groups: laser, ultrasonic, radar, infrared or lidar sensors.

Sensors permanently detect the vehicle's surroundings - see display

For example, the traffic jam pilot in the audi A8 – which the manufacturer claims is the first true level 3 driving function – is equipped with 24 different sensor systems, including five radar sensors and six cameras.

At the active level, there must be the option of electronic control of the engine, brakes and steering system. The third prerequisite is the linking of all active and passive systems in terms of control technology, while maintaining the necessary safety (see paragraph on "Safety") IT security) and very short response times.

The founders (from left): Rolf Wojtech, Florian Petit, Mathias Muller

Technologies required for autonomous driving outside the vehicle

The higher expansion stages of the automated driving can only be reliably realized with purely in-vehicle sensors and electronics if certain conditions are met (no cross-traffic, no pedestrians). The goal, however, is driverless driving on the longest possible routes and in urban areas. Therefore, the technologies for autonomous driving are closely linked to the trend of connectivity.

Autonomous driving requires the new 5G mobile communications standard.

  • Vehicles approaching an intersection exchange signals and make z. B. Regulations on right of way (car-to-car communication).
  • Vehicles can automatically warn following or oncoming cars of hazardous situations and, in the case of them, z. B. trigger emergency braking.
  • Mobile networks monitor intersection traffic or traffic in entire neighborhoods (car-to-X communication).
  • Also parking garages, traffic signs, traffic lights, etc. Are included in the communication.

To be able to drive autonomously, the computer also needs information about road works or traffic lights.

Against this background, the expansion of mobile communications networks (5G) is of great importance for the practical use of autonomous driving. In addition, a cloud-based communications infrastructure must be established.

Impact of autonomous driving on vehicle design

Level 4 autonomous vehicles require the driver’s attention only occasionally and on request. At level 5, there are no longer any drivers, only passengers. As numerous vehicle studies have shown, this will have a significant impact on the design of the interior.

Some examples: the instrument panel with steering wheel can be folded away. "real" autonomous vehicles (level 5) manage entirely without a steering wheel. The driver’s seat can be converted into a mobile workstation, or all passengers sit facing each other. For long-distance journeys z. B. To the vacation spot, the seats become comfortable sleeping facilities.

Robo-taxis and minibuses are the first 'use cases' for autonomous driving

Driving without a driver enables completely new interior concepts - here in the Mercedes F015

Meeting in an autonomous shuttle? How people will use the free time provided by autonomous driving cars is still a matter of debate for many

Further interior concepts for autonomous vehicles can be found here:

Futuristic cockpit concept from Conti with large glass surfaces for all displays. The three-dimensional touch display won the 'CES Innovation Award'

Autonomous driving: legal requirements

According to the "Vienna Convention on Road Traffic" of 1968, which applies throughout the EU, the driver of a vehicle must be in control at all times. In 2016, this agreement was amended to the effect that automated systems must be able to. A. Then be allowed to drive if the driver can "overrule" it. Fully autonomous vehicles are therefore not yet eligible for registration in Germany. In other markets such as the USA and China, regulations are more open.

Overall, the legal framework for autonomous driving is complex. Since there is no driver in fully autonomous vehicles, the question arises as to who is liable in the event of an accident. In the current legal system, a vehicle can be registered on its own, i.e. without a keeper, manufacturer, etc., if the vehicle is not in use. Not be held liable for this.

There is also intense debate about the (algorithmically controlled) driving strategy in the event of accidents: how "decides" z. B. An autonomous vehicle when a pedestrian runs onto the roadway? swerve it and drive into oncoming traffic? Does it take collision with a passerby to avoid collision with three pedestrians?

A overview of liability for automated driving cars you can find here:

Self-driving systems - the picture shows a Waymo vehicle - raise legal questions

Insurance and ethical aspects of autonomous driving

Individual accidents with autonomous vehicles cannot be ruled out – at least at present – and generate a great deal of media attention each time they occur. However, there is no question that automated or. Autonomous driving will significantly reduce the frequency of accidents. This trend is already discernible – at least in industrialized nations – thanks to the increasing market penetration of assistance systems.

In this context, there is intense debate about how an autonomous vehicle will behave in the event of an imminent collision: will it z. B. Risking a total loss to protect an unwary pedestrian? This depends on the algorithms that take effect in such cases – legal regulations are still lacking here.

The U.S. state of Arizona has banned Uber from further robo-driving until further notice following the fatal crash of a self-driving car with a woman

The question of data: IT security and data protection

When autonomous vehicles communicate with their environment on a cloud basis, safety-relevant data is transmitted. This presupposes stable and very powerful (radio) networks and requires a high degree of data security (IT security). This means that there must be fallback levels and the risk of attacks must be excluded as far as possible. Guidelines and standards are currently being developed to meet these requirements. Data protection also plays a role. Ultimately, autonomous driving collects, transmits and stores personal (mobility) data.

State of development of autonomous driving

Currently (december 2018), all major volume manufacturers offer mid-range and top-of-the-range models with assistance systems up to level 3. they are also working on vehicles for levels 4 and 5 and have presented prototypes – some of them several years ago.

Some examples from tesla, daimler or volkswagen:

  • Tesla calls its system autopilot, it runs on level 2. The latest functions are expected to recognize and respond to traffic lights, stops and traffic circles.
  • Mercedes has developed the (drivable) prototype F015, an example of an autonomous luxury vehicle with an innovative interior design.
  • VW is targeting the market for autonomous compact vehicles with the sedric concept car, but has also developed an autonomous racing vehicle with the ID pikes peak.
  • On the ring road around Gothenburg, volvo has set up a test track for a fleet of 100 automated XC 90s.
  • GM has announced that it will launch a level 5 vehicle without a steering wheel as early as 2019 (see Figure 4).

Technology groups as google (waymo) and mobility service providers such as uber are technically on similar status as the automotive groups.

Whitepaper Cover: AUTOMOBIL INDUSTRIE editorial team

Industry barometer

Study: development in automated vehicles

Also tier 1 automotive suppliers bosch, continental, aptiv, ZF and schaeffler have been working on complete or partial systems for autonomous driving for many years. Aptiv is using z. B. A test track on public roads in wuppertal.

Overall, the industry is making very high investments and development expenditures in this area: "in the german automotive industry alone, around 20.000 developers with connected and automated driving." (herrmann/brenner, S.29) 1

Artificial intelligence: autonomous driving and deep learning

In practice, the sensor systems for the automated resp. Autonomous vehicles are already achieving good results today – provided that the environmental conditions are favorable. The problem is z. B. In case of snowfall, missing lane markings and unclear traffic situations. Development work still needs to be done here. This is a field of application for artificial intelligence (AI) with neural networks: with the help of "deep learning," the sensor networks learn, for example, to distinguish objects from people with a very high accuracy rate and to recognize the direction in which pedestrians are walking.

Sepp Hochreiter, 51, heads the Artificial Intelligence LAB at the Linz Institute of Technology (LIT)

Future of autonomous driving: market outlook and forecasts

Sales forecasts vary widely – as there are many factors to consider. The consensus, on the other hand, is that autonomous driving will be part of everyday life for many vehicle users from 2030 onwards. The information service IHS markit expects global sales of sensor networks to reach approximately 6.5 million cars with level 4 and from just under 4.5 million fully automated level 5 vehicles.

According to general estimates, autonomous driving will initially be used in defined markets. The first step will be taken by robo-taxis and minibuses with fixed stops or in fixed districts (Fig. 6). In germany, a partially automated shuttle is driving in the bavarian bad birnbach.

Manufacturers, suppliers and institutes are increasingly testing on public roads

On the university campus of singapore such a "robotaxi" has already been in use since 2016. Volkswagen plans to offer cab services with the VW sedric in two to five cities starting in 2021. Waymo, uber and others are driving similar projects in the U.S. and asia.

In addition to autonomous cabs and minibuses, there will also be "autonomous" multi-purpose vehicles – as a third vehicle category – in the premium segment.

How autonomous driving is changing mobility?

According to experts, new types of mobility will also become established with autonomous vehicles. There are already practical examples of this z. B. In phoenix/USA, where the google subsidiary waymo has announced the launch of a fleet of autonomous cabs for december 2018. volkswagen is planning to do the same with its "moia" shuttle service for hamburg and other cities – initially with drivers.

So it’s not just new entrants like waymo and uber that are entering the automotive market. New business models are also taking hold that could replace the traditional model (car purchase by the driver). There is a close connection here to another "megatrend" in the industry: the sharing economy.

Autonomous driving: social and macroeconomic benefits

Autonomous driving brings significant time benefits to passengers, especially in cities with high traffic congestion, because they can save time in the car z. B. can use for office work. In addition, the absorption capacity of the roads is increased several times over. In addition, groups of people who cannot drive themselves (the elderly and the sick) can also participate in individual transportation. And the significant drop in the number of accidents is reducing the (considerable) social costs z. B. Due to absenteeism from work, hospitalization, etc. In addition, traffic is becoming increasingly congested, especially in city centers. This results in reduced energy consumption and correspondingly lower emissions.

Autonomous driving: conclusion and open questions

In summary, autonomous driving will not only change vehicle technology, but also the functions of the car and mobility as a whole. New business models will emerge and new competitors (technology groups, mobility service providers, network providers…) will enter the automotive market.

Among the open issues are the payment models. What fees are charged for the use of data networks (car-to-car, car-to-x communication)?? Who offers these services: the car manufacturer or the network operator?? Equally open is the question of who owns (and who commercializes) the data generated by the autonomous vehicle and passed on, for example, to subsequent vehicles: the car manufacturer, the manufacturer of the assistance system, the service provider or the network operator? These two questions alone show that autonomous driving can also cause real disruption at the level of business models.

Industry Barometer

Industry Barometer

"index automated driving": competition of the autonomous nations

Further information on autonomous driving

1. Our development channel: up-to-the-minute news, specialist articles and insider knowledge

2. Our media library: studies and monthly updated M&A transactions of automotive suppliers

We need your help!

We put a lot of work into this article to keep it relevant and up-to-date. Give us feedback and let’s hear what interests you most about autonomous driving technology. Which questions are still open? Which aspect should we look at in more depth?

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Overview of autonomous driving: sources

1 andreas herrmann, walter brenner, the autonomous revolution. How self-driving cars are taking over our roads. Frankfurter allgemeine verlag, 2018

N.N., insurers want rules for autonomous driving. In: FAZ, 21.11.2018

DARPA challenge. Wikipedia, retrieved on 3.12.2018

Maren eitel, why in the digital world the covers are dark. Interview with johann jungwirth, head of mobility services at volkswagen AG. In: porsche consulting magazine no. 19/2018, S. 11ff.

Federico magno, it’s a matter of bare existence. In: automobil industrie, special issue transformation E, 2018, pp.6/7

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