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Continental focusing on automated driving as key long-term technology strategy; receives approval to test automated vehicles on Nevada roads

20 December 2012

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Vehicle automation is set to be rolled out in stages, starting with partially automated driving from 2016; high levels of automation from 2020; and fully automated systems available from 2025. Click to enlarge.

The development of products and systems for automated driving is one of the central themes of international automotive supplier Continental’s long-term technology strategy. The Continental Executive Board’s strategic and budget planning for the coming year includes all of the necessary elements that need to be implemented step-by-step across the board so that fully-automated driving becomes reality by 2025, said Dr. Elmar Degenhart, Chairman of the Executive Board of Continental, after the end of the company’s recent Strategy Workshop.

As a reflection of this focus, Continental has just received approval from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to test autonomous vehicles on the state’s public roads. Continental’s testing license is for the company’s highly automated vehicle, and represents the first license granted by the Nevada DMV to an automotive supplier.

At Continental, we will be investing billions overall in research and development over the coming years particularly in the automotive divisions to help smooth the path to the mobility of the future. It’s clear to us that automated driving will be a key element in the mobility of the future. As a system supplier, we are perfectly positioned to develop and launch series production of solutions for partially automated systems for our customers by 2016. We will be able to develop the first applications for highly and ultimately fully automated driving, even at higher speeds and in more complex driving situations, ready for production by 2020 or 2025.

—Dr. Degenhart

From a technological point of view, automated driving represents the evolution of driver assistance systems, which have already begun to emerge, Continental notes. The systematic networking with driver information and drive systems is gradually advancing the concept toward its goal. From 2016, partially automated systems may therefore be assisting drivers in “stop & go” situations on the freeway at low speeds of up to 30 km/h (18.6 mph). But this initial step toward automation does not relieve drivers of their responsibility to constantly pay attention to what is happening on the road.

That step may come to fruition with the implementation of highly automated driving from 2020, Continental suggests. As well as covering higher speeds above 30 km/h on the freeway, highly automated driving will allow drivers to use the time they would ordinarily spend driving to carry out other activities. With both levels of automation, however, the driver must be able to take control of the vehicle at all times.

When fully automated driving is possible in 2025, even this may no longer be necessary. On the freeway, a fully automated vehicle will have full and independent control of driving up to 130 km/h. But when the vehicle reaches the desired exit, for example, the driver will have to take control, even with this high level of automation. When fully automated systems become available in 2025, they will still be limited to driving on the freeway. However, if the driver fails to respond to a demand to take control here, the vehicle will return to a safe state by itself, i.e. by braking and stopping on the hard shoulder.

Automated systems can increase road safety many times and therefore save lives. This is something we have already seen in the aviation industry. Similarly to the situation for pilots, automated driving systems will not at all lead to the frequently claimed disempowerment of motorists. On the contrary, the interactive and optionally automated car will give drivers more freedom in terms of individual mobility. Drivers who take the same route to work every day, for example, will surely embrace the opportunity of having the vehicle take charge of this task. The same applies to monotonous and tiring long-distance journeys on freeways.

—Dr. Degenhart

With suitable systems on board, drivers will in the future be able to decide whether to do the driving themselves or to let the vehicle take control. With the market launch of highly automated vehicles by 2020, drivers will be able to concentrate on other activities. At the same time, an automatically controlled vehicle will be even safer thanks to the increased interaction with itself and its environment. Furthermore, the energy management and driving characteristics of the vehicle will be optimized on the basis of a real-time data concept, thereby enabling more energy-efficient driving.

More than 1,250 specialists at Continental are already working on the basics of automated driving. They are working specifically on driver assistance systems, such as adaptive cruise control and emergency brake assistance, which employ sophisticated technology to record the vehicle environment using a camera, infrared, and radar in various driving situations and therefore to warn, support, and relieve the driver. To enable increase the focus even more on the increased demand for assistance systems, Continental formed a new Advanced Driver Assistance Systems business unit within the Chassis & Safety division in April this year.

Continental is already one of the leading manufacturers of driver assistance systems. Since the first series project in 1999 for the Mercedes S-Class, the company has realized more than 100 projects for automotive manufacturers worldwide. Continental’s Interior division has several years of experience in the design of display and user interfaces, while the Powertrain division has a wealth of expertise in the energy management of drive systems. Integration at system level is coordinated on a cross-domain basis in strategic pre-development. In conjunction with its network of partners in the field of information and communication technology, this approach enables Continental to realize all technological aspects of automated driving.

As well as its commitment to diverse research projects (AKTIV, HAVEit, DARPA Urban Challenge), in early 2012 the company undertook a two-week endurance test with close-to-production technology in the US state of Nevada. More than 15,000 miles of highly automated driving have been completed on public roads primarily in Nevada.

The basic technical prerequisite for the implementation of automated driving is system reliability. Road safety of the highest degree is therefore the essential foundation on which automated driving must be based.

—Dr. Degenhart

More specifically, this calls for fail-safe architecture that keeps the vehicle in a safe state in the event of a fault. However, the time frame for development of this necessary safety architecture will not be the sole factor that determines the timing of market launch:

Legislative bodies will take the major decisions as to when and how automated vehicles will be introduced onto the market, and the required legal framework still needs to be drawn up.

—Dr. Degenhart

Nevada. After completing driving demonstrations on 18 December in Carson City, the Nevada DMV’s Autonomous Review Committee approved Continental’s safety plans, employee training, system functions and accident reporting mechanisms.

Following approvals, Continental will receive its testing license and red license plate featuring an infinity sign to represent the car of the future. The plate is designed to be easily recognized by law enforcement and the public at large. It will only be used for licensed autonomous test vehicles.

We are proud that our state is serving as the platform for automated testing and licensing. Nevada’s steady climate, varying terrains and driving conditions offer an excellent opportunity for more companies, especially automotive organizations, to take advantage of this autonomous driving opportunity. Automated vehicles, such as the one Continental is testing, illustrate the extensive research and development occurring within the automotive industry and embody the future of a vehicle equipped to make the driving experience safer and more enjoyable.

—Troy L. Dillard, Director Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles

Continental’s current highly automated vehicle is designed to always have a driver monitoring the vehicle behind the wheel, unlike a completely automated vehicle. Designed as a driver assist system, the automated vehicle can accommodate multiple driving scenarios.

Utilizing four short-range radar sensors (two at the front, two at the rear), one long-range radar and a stereo camera, the vehicle is capable of cruising down an open freeway as well as negotiating heavy rush-hour traffic. Taking advantage of Continental’s sensor fusion technology as part of the ContiGuard safety concept, the vehicle is able to track all objects as they enter into the sensors’ field of view. The object information is then processed and passed on to the Continental Motion Domain Controller to control the vehicle’s longitudinal and lateral motion via signals to the engine, the brakes and the steering system.

The equipment in Continental’s highly automated vehicle differs from the customized sensors and tailor-made actuators in other automated vehicles. The vehicle, which has logged more than 15,000 miles, is built primarily with equipment that is already available in series production. Continental’s short term goal is to relieve the driver of tedious and monotonous activities, such as driving on highways with minimal traffic or in low-speed situations like traffic jams.

Continental will continue real world evaluations with this vehicle and believes that a highly automated driving vehicle featuring traffic jam assist will be introduced within the next few years.

December 20, 2012 in Autonomous driving, Connected vehicles, Safety, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (25) | TrackBack (0)

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I think automation will combine with the mobile phone and electrification of transport to change the paradigm of personal ownership of vehicles.
Cars are only used a fraction of the time, and cost a lot of money for that occasional use, as well as taking up huge areas of land and making walkable neighbourhoods difficult.
We already have the technology to make door to door on demand public transport possible:
http://www.taxibus.org.uk/

Journeying by taxibus is delightfully easy. Prospective passengers request a taxibus ride simply by submitting their current location and desired destination addresses to the IGT computer system, typically using an ordinary cellular telephone. Regularly-used addresses would be pre-programmed on the passenger's phone, so this address submission is very straightforward. As soon as a taxibus journey is requested in this way, the IGT computer system searches its database for a nearby taxibus vehicle whose current itinerary is compatible with the passenger's submitted itinerary. Once a suitable taxibus is found, it is immediately diverted to pick up and convey the new passenger.

New passengers are collected extremely quickly, generally within three minutes of submitting their journey request. Such rapid pick-up is feasible because IGT operates with a large fleet of taxibus vehicles spread across the city, continually travelling the road networks, constantly conveying passengers. A new passenger is allocated to a nearby taxibus vehicle already on the roads carrying commuters, this vehicle's itinerary being modified on-the-fly to incorporate the new passenger.'

The major cost of public transport is wages for the driver.
That goes away with automation, and the fleet can have all sorts of sizes of vehicles so that during rush hour big buses are connected to on the major routes so optimising use of road space.

Automated car parks could hold the vehicles not in use, and they could be much more compact than current car parks as there would be no need to provide access for people or their head height, so they would be stacked really tightly.

Welcome back our city streets!
Hello e-bikes and pedestrians!

Goodbye lethal traffic fumes!
Goodbye almost all road deaths!

I'd be willing to bet that in 2025 this will still be in the experimental stage. All of these electronically controlled vehicles make me leery. What if a major solar flare or someone detonates a large impulse device in a city, it could permanently disable not only our electric grid but also all vehicles.

As Davemart says, this could well be the elusive key to changing the paradigm of personal ownership of vehicles.

Most of us believe that if about half of all vehicles were eliminated and the remaining half magically converted into some sort of mini-taxis or car-swap we would have all the transportation we need.

But how to make everyone continue their car payments (onerous as they might be) but divert those payments from something you own to mini-taxis?

Not to mention that present MASS transit is represented mostly by inefficient, MASSively expensive fixed facilities and rolling stock.

Fewer people every day really care about the ability of their vehicles (reliable?; maneuverable?; OHC?; VVT?;good mpg?)- they care about the style; like clothes it is not about functionality (warm?; durable?;) but appearance.

When the grid controls the car it will finally be possible to deliver it to you - so why park it at your house - why let it sit idle most of the day - why even own it.

And who cares if the taxi that comes to pick you up is a German car representing conspicuous consumption.

Most on this site (including me), are car enthusiasts, and it will be sad to have the steering wheel yanked from our grip. But things change.

The technology will be exciting (even more so if you are a pedestrian).

And it will be the car we are in that will text while driving - but then, so can we.

Over 100,000 lives/year and many $$$B/year and many million tons of pollution/year could be avoided by replacing human drivers with automated driver less technologies.

'Fun' drivers could practice their sport on out of town race tracks and pay for all consequences.

The world fleet is approaching one billion vehicles and is replaced every 12 years or so. At close to 100 million units a year, it could become as popular and profitable as smart phones and tablets.

A good field for Google, Apple, Microsoft and many others to move in?

i suspect that the diff between public transport and privately owned cars will disappear slowly. from trains which will drive by them self, to busses on special roads. on the other side the car will have automated car parking traffic jam riding etc...
in city's you so more and more people do not want to own a car but rent it when they need it. in the end you will either own a car which will drive you from place to place and will park itself some where out of town. or you will use public transport which will look like a car and will drive you from place to place and park itself some where out of town.

what surprises me is that this technologies is not implemented jet in lets say boats. they could easily been steered automated.

Repair shops, car parts suppliers, car dealers, car manufacturers, insurance firms, towing firms, private ambulances, private hospitals, many doctors and many more people earn their living from unsafe accident prone 'fun' drivers behavior, killing about 100,000 people/year.

There may be a similar, close relationship between the 270,000,000+ automatic guns and 30,000+ people/year killed by gun bullets in USA. Sales-manufacturing of all those guns-ammunition together with associated organisations and lobbies make any changes very difficult.

The 'not in my backward' addiction goes very deep. Our 'so called' right to defend ourselves and to kill others is like crazy clue. It is very difficult to take off. Many right wing groups are in favor of arming all teachers with up-to-date machine guns instead of stopping guns from entering schools.

Lethal automatic guns and 'fun' drivers control (restriction or ban) is required but will meet with resistance from we know who.

I agree with jimr. I think that automonous cars will still have to obey the speed limit. People won't like it and will switch into manual mode, defeating the whole purpose. It will be a bonanza for accident lawyers.

"People won't like it and will switch into manual mode"

Some people will. I suspect most will be willing to drive, er... , ride a bit slower and watch TV, surf the web, eat their breakfast, put on their makeup, get some work done, snooze, .... They'll trade getting there a couple minutes later for not having to drive and being able to use their time in a more productive manner than dealing with road jerks.

Self-driving cars will move to the right and let the speeders through.

The highway patrol will find the speeders easy pickings.

Our cities and states need the revenue.

It occurred to me that part of a system of automated vehicles is likely to mean that the vehicles will communicate with each other.

The message that a vehicle traveling 10, 15 miles over the speed limit is information likely to be passed around the fleet. Speeders are likely to get ratted out by the other cars on the highway.

---

"What if a major solar flare or someone detonates a large impulse device in a city,"

Not a lot of cars on the roads right now that don't depend on a computer to function.

Many thousand aircraft fly across the Atlantic and automatically follow and stay within their assigned restricted rather confined space. No accidents happen, pilots and air traffic controllers do not have to interfere. Every plane follow their assigned route and duly respect their assigned speed, altitude and separation to others. All those planes eventually do an automated control approach and land on an assigned runway, exactly at the right spot....so much so that tire marks accumulate on top of each other and have to be cleaned often.

I do not know how it will evolve but I suspect that autonomous and manual cars will not mix well for long.

Probably Auto Car lanes will replace (or be added to) the car pool lanes.

And manual car traffic will be restricted to fewer and fewer inefficient, slower lanes.

Auto Car (and Auto Car Pool)lanes would be even more prized than car pool lanes are today.

"I suspect that autonomous and manual cars will not mix well for long."

Why?

Autonomous cars will react faster and more reliably to the antics of manual cars than humans are capable of doing.

They will relay the alert to other autonomous cars around them that there's a car being hang-driven by a human in their midst. Humans in the autonomous cars will be alerted that it might be necessary to break faster than usual because you just never know when those humans are going to screw up....

Yes, it may become a case of automated cars having to predict and out smart manual drivers. Drunk and drug ones will be rather easy because they react slower. Predicting what young sober braves will do may be another story but the machine will eventually out smart them too as it did with the smartest chess players.

If smart auto pilots are copied, manual drivers may not be allowed to create as many accidents as they do today?

A few years back I was badly injured by a drunk hitting me head-on on a narrow two lane road. He came around a curve at over 60 miles per hour on my side of the road and I had no place to escape. He got me in my lane.

I was driving between 30 and 35. Other cars had pulled off the road to get out of his way. Had we been driving smart cars it is possible that the other cars could have contacted mine and taken at least partial defensive action.

If nothing else, stopping would have removed my 33 miles of energy from the mix, lowering the overall impact. Stopping hard against the bank on the right side of the road might have allowed him to fish-tale on past me, at least not hit nose to nose.

--

Many years earlier I was t-boned by a drunk in a snow storm. He apparently didn't even slow down at the stop sign but plowed across three lanes of traffic into my car.

A smart car would probably have know that there was someone approaching from a side street at too high a rate and done an emergency stop.

That's two incidences in which I can see where smarter cars could have saved someone a lot of broken bones and hospital time.

BW...smart cars will easily detect that a human driver is impaired and will not allow him to start/drive the car. His smart car will drive him to the closest police station and then home?

Zhukova... we have had 'No fault' obligatory car insurance for many years. Lawyers are out of it completely. The Government Insurance part pays for ALL injuries to you, your passengers and to others, caused by your car (Medicare used to pay before) and your Private insurance pays for material damages to your car and all damages to other properties caused by your car.

I expect cars will be programmed so that they will take control back from drivers who are making significant mistakes, regardless of the reason. Cars will be programmed to protect themselves and their occupants.

Actually, it will be interesting to see how the issue plays out. Once self-driving cars become more available then we'll start having discussions about how much freedom the driver should have.

At first there will almost certainly be the ability to turn off the system and go into manual mode.

If people start abusing that (drunks deciding to drive) then sensors and program takeover will likely start happening.

My bet is that a few years after self-driving is a universal feature almost no one will choose to drive themselves. There's a certain pleasure in learning the skill of driving on a winding road, but there just aren't that many winding roads any longer.

There's no pleasure in being part of the pack rolling down the highway.

BW....yes it will be interesting to see how fast multiple driver assistance and driver less automated vehicles are introduced.

The transition period may be rather rocky in certain places where deniers will refuse to accept being progressively replaced as drivers, specially the unionized one.

A recent study concluded that many unionized city bus drivers (specially the highly union-active one who refuse to wear the uniform etc) have up to 10X more accidents/year than others. It is very unsafe to stop at a street corner with one of those guy driving a bus on your right, He will use his 'right of way' to pull out, even if it means taking half of your car with him. I say 'him' because lady drivers are more polite and will do their best to avoid accidents NOT to create them.

Why do you take an unnecessary shot at unions? I would imagine most of the people on this site are workers, not owners. Or at least during part of their lives were workers.

(Perhaps I'm wrong and the rest of you were 'lucky sperm' and born into wealth.)

Unions gave us the semi-tolerable working conditions we have today. Forty hour weeks with compensation for overtime. Workplaces that don't eat our fingers and kill us.

We have allowed the greedy "owner class" to view unions as bad things. Unions are what allowed us to move from "serfs" to middle class. People should read some history.

And here ends Bob's Christmas rant....

Fact. Nothing is perfect. If a union is behaving inappropriately then that needs to be fixed. But overall unions are a very good thing.

Consider the plight of Walmart checkers and fast food workers. Those are non-union jobs. Want one?

Both extremes may be the problem.

Unions are running-doing all the hiring in the construction industry in our province and that is going much toooo far. It brought collusion, price fixing, reduced quality, higher (40+%) construction cost. Organized crime and union leaders joint hands (about 20 years ago) and cost our cities and provincial government an extra $10B/year to $20B/year in extra cost and probably much more for private industry constructions.

Powerful, corrupted construction worker unions quickly become very destructive to the local and national economy.

However, I agree with you that the other extreme...i.e. no union... can have negative effects on the standard of living of most workers but that is not always the case. Henry Ford (and many others) paid their workers higher (very decent) pay without unions.

Minimum wage (and why not maximum salaries-bonus too) legislation may be an alternative way to deal with the problem. The minimum wage is $12+/hour in many places and could progressively be pushed to $15/hour and even $20/hour by reducing maximum managers' salaries to no more than 3X to 5X the average salary of their workers. Getting $120M/bonus to run and bankrupt a large bank is shameful?

Salary disparity of 500X and even 1000+X in many banks, large corporations, and family run businesses is currently accepted and common practices but is obscene.

Henry Ford was a very unique case. Henry and Costco are not examples followed by the vast majority of employers.

Were we to change the minimum wage into a "living wage" which gave someone who was willing to work a 40 hour week the ability to provide decent housing, food, and a few modest amenities for themselves and their family that would solve part of the problem.

The US federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour. Think about what your lifestyle would be like were you to try to support yourself on $1,300 per month. Remember to subtract employment taxes. And take into account that you would be a renter and would not own a decent vehicle. All that housing and transportation stuff has to come out of less than $400 per week.

Yes, unions have at times been corrupt. Banks and financial institutions also break the law at times.

Because some break the law does not mean that the institution should be done away with, it means that better regulations and enforcement are needed.

We need a more fair system of profit distribution.

Fairness is a major challenge to apply.

The majority of those who currently benefit the most (the 3%) will rarely or never (voluntarily) share part of their revenue with the 97%. Governments are normally called upon to protect and help the 97% with lower taxes, minimum wages, free schools, free medicare, free roads and bridges, social welfare etc. That cost a lot (for so many) and taxes have to be raised or large deficits are created or both. That's what is happening is most western world countries.

The problem is where to start and to stop.

The 3% do not want to pay their maid and other manual workers $12+/hour..they will recruit somebody from a third world country, find an legal-illegal way to move him/her to USA/Canada, make him/her work 12+ hours a day and pay him/her a ridiculous salary without fringe benefits etc.

A decent minimum wage + decent fringe benefits + compulsory progressive national pension fund is a good start. That's about what we have in Canada (in most Provinces) but many farmers have found ways around the law and hire temporary out of country workers at conditions below what is expected.

It is very far from a perfect world.

By the way, I've invested all my life for the excellent revenues I have today. I wouldn't mind an extra progressive 1% fee on all stock market and bank trades to pay off part of the national debt. A progressive 5% national sale tax (applied in Canada) excluding essential food, children clothing, prescribed generic drugs would also help. A extra (new) progressive 10% national sale tax on all non-essential goods, junk food-drinks, alcohol and fossil fuel would be a third way to reduce the national deficit faster.

BW..

Salaries and benefits ($122K/each/year) for city bus drivers is already the major operation cost for many city bus fleet.

Secondly, many aggressive city bus drivers (excluding most female drivers) do not care about who they drive into and create 10+ accidents/year each and up to $300K/year in damages. All that because they are 100+% protected by their all powerful Union instead of being fired for dangerous driving.

Exact data is difficult to get but it is possible if you befriend and ex-Union leader. Have you noticed that the majority are female drivers on weekends and holidays? That's how fair most Unions are?

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