As more and more automakers introduce lots of driver assistance systems and regulations make them mandatory, the auto industry could very well be approaching a high-tech era of accident-free driving.
New rules in Europe going into effect in 2014 will require vehicles to have advanced driver assistance features such as lane departure and forward collision warning systems to get a top safety rating. That’s certainly accelerating the development of new driver-assist technologies that could sharply reduce the number of common accidents due to driver error, as industry leaders predict.
The new rules, in turn, are bringing the age of fully automated driving ever closer, said Steffen Linkenbach, Continental AG director of engineering systems and technology, as the German supplier is pushing to become a leader in the fast-emerging field.
“We have a clear vision of accident-free driving,” said Likenbach. Continental, a major supplier of safety technology has already sold 4.5 million sensors used for the latest driver-assist systems, and the total is expected to climb to 10 million by 2015. “We supply all the automakers,” added Likenbach.
Last January, Continental and BMW Group signed an agreement to jointly develop highly automated driving functions and to define the long-term prerequisites for making highly automated driving systems available in volume production for vehicles sold in Europe. The cooperative project runs through to the end of 2014.
And now, Nissan and Daimler recently were promising to introduce their first mainstream fully-autonomous vehicles (unrelated, even they share a partnership) by 2020. Other makers anticipate reaching similar milestones around decade’s end, as well, Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggesting the battery-car maker is planning a “90% autonomous” vehicle by 2020.
During a drive on Detroit’s I-75 freeway in an autonomous test vehicle, Continental engineers showed off how far the technology has come. The test vehicle cruised along at 70 mph while the driver kept his hands off the wheel. A little later, it automatically maintained a safe position in stop-and-go traffic behind a Michigan Department of Transportation Crew re-painting lane marking on the freeway.
Continental’s Likenbach stressed a lot of research and development work is still needed before fully automated driving is possible, even along the straightest sections of roadways. Besides the technical challenges, the focus is on developing affordable systems and establishing a valid legal framework for automated driving, he said.
) - Friday, October 11th, 2013 - filed under News
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