Bosch is working to expand its range of driver assistance systems to incorporate autonomous braking, acceleration, and steering functions. The traffic jam assistant will step in when the vehicle is moving at speeds between 0 and 50 km/h (31 mph). This means that it will operate in most stop-and-go traffic situations.
The first generation of the traffic jam assistant is expected to enter series production in 2014. In the following years, the feature will be enhanced to cover ever-faster speeds and more complex driving situations. Eventually, the traffic jam assistant will serve as a highway pilot for full autonomous driving, Bosch says.
Today, adaptive cruise control already tracks the vehicles ahead and adapts the distance and speed of the driver’s own vehicle accordingly. Acting in combination with the ESP (Electronic Stability Program) system and with the additional support of lane-detection cameras and electromechanical steering, this forms the technical basis for autonomous driving.
High-performance software already calculates the appropriate driving instructions for a safer and less stressful driving. Automatic lane changing is the next functional step, Bosch says. This calls for two additional features: a rear-mounted radar sensor that also detects fast-approaching vehicles; and a dynamic navigation map.
Such maps, which operate via a mobile network connection, can keep drivers informed of current roadwork sites and local speed restrictions. And although drivers remain responsible for driving, they can limit themselves to monitoring the actions of the driver assistance system.
As well as the ESP and electrical steering, Bosch already offers all the sensors required to detect the full range of traffic conditions relevant for drivers and their vehicles. Depending on the extent of onboard functions offered by a particular vehicle, front detection is carried out by a radar sensor combined with a mono camera, or by a stereo camera.
With the LRR3, Bosch offers a high-performance long-range radar sensor. With an aperture angle of up to 30 degrees, this sensor can detect objects at a distance of 250 meters (820 feet).
The new mid-range radar sensor, scheduled to go into series production in 2013, offers a range of 160 meters (525 feet) and an aperture angle of 45 degrees. Its cost is significantly lower, since it is designed to meet the requirements of the mass market.
In addition to the currently available multi-purpose video camera that is equipped with one sensor element, Bosch has developed a stereo video camera that detects objects in 3D with the help of two sensors. As a result, it is able to calculate exactly how far objects are from the vehicle, as well as in which direction they are moving.
Both sensor configurations enable full predictive emergency braking. Two adapted mid-range radar sensors assume the task of observing traffic behind the vehicle. These sensors have an aperture angle of 150 degrees and can detect objects up to 100 meters (328 feet) away. Finally, the parking assistant’s ultrasound sensors provide support during close-range steering maneuvers.
Bosch sees a step-wise adoption of autonomous driving. At first, driving on highways with an ever greater degree of automation and at ever higher speeds will be possible, until the highway pilot can take over the entire trip.
Two major challenges are:
Inner-city driving, since automated vehicle functions have to deal with dense traffic involving a large number of road users traveling in every direction.
Developing a concept to ensure that the system’s functions operate reliably in all types of driving situation.