[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
Mercedes-Benz launches new S-Class with hybrid, diesel, gasoline models; 59 mpg PHEV model to come
May 16, 2013
|New S 400 HYBRID. Click to enlarge.|
Mercedes-Benz’s new generation flagship S-Class, introduced at an elaborate event at Airbus in Finkenwerder, marks a number of technology firsts in numerous areas from comfort, to driver control, to efficiency. As one example of the last, the new S-Class is the first car in the world to completely dispense with conventional electric bulbs, making exclusive use of energy-saving LED technology both inside and outside.
On a larger efficiency scale, the new S-Class in its first year will offer two hybrid versions, a gasoline model and a diesel variant: the S 400 HYBRID, S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, S 500, and S 350 BlueTEC. The models offer up to 20% lower fuel consumption than the outgoing model series. These soon will be followed by the S 500 Plug-In HYBRID—the first S-Class with a fuel consumption lower than 4l/100 km (59 mpg US). All the engines already meet the requirements of the Euro-6 emissions standard.
U-M launches Michigan Mobility Transformation Center; model deployment for testing connected and automated vehicles and systems
May 14, 2013
The University of Michigan announced the establishment of the Michigan Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) as a partnership with government and industry to improve the safety, sustainability and accessibility of the ways that people and goods move from place to place.
A key focus of the MTC will be a model deployment that will allow researchers to test emerging concepts in connected and automated vehicles and vehicle systems in both off-road and on-road settings. The model deployment will build in part on a $25-million study for the US Department of Transportation now underway at UMTRI. (Earlier post.)
Volvo Car Group introduces world-first Cyclist Detection with full auto brake
March 05, 2013
Volvo Car Group used the venue of the Geneva Motor Show to introduce new safety technology that detects and automatically brakes for cyclists swerving out in front of the car.
The new functionality is an enhancement of the present detection and auto brake technology, and the package will be called Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with full auto brake. New advanced software, including more rapid vision processing, has made it possible to extend the present detection and auto brake technology also to cover certain cyclist situations. All cars equipped with pedestrian detection will also incorporate cyclist detection.
Continental and BMW Group working together to develop freeway-grade highly automated driving
February 27, 2013
Continental and the BMW Group are pooling their development capacities to define the long-term prerequisites for series introduction of highly automated driving on European freeways. In January 2013, the two companies signed an agreement to jointly develop an electronic co-pilot for this purpose. The overarching aim of the research partnership is to pave the way to highly automated driving functions beyond the year 2020.
Continental is a leading suppliers of advanced driver assistance systems; the development of products and systems for automated driving is one of the central themes of its long-term technology strategy. (Earlier post.)
New GPS/IMU fusion system improves the precision of GPS in vehicles in cities by up to 90%; implications for connected vehicles, autonomy and ITS
February 12, 2013
|Integration of GNSS (GPS) antenna of rover receiver and IMU in a platform over the roof of the test vehicle. Source: Martí et al.Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have developed a new system which improves the ability of a GPS to determine a vehicle’s position as compared to that of conventional GPS devices by up to 90%, and which can be installed in any vehicle at a very low cost. Future applications that will benefit from the technology will include cooperative driving, automatic maneuvers for the safety of pedestrians, autonomous vehicles or cooperative collision warning systems, the scientists noted.
The system is a fusion of a GPS (or GNSS, Global Navigation Satellite System) and an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) integrating three accelerometers and three gyroscopes, based on a context-aided Unscented Kalman filter for navigation in urban conditions. The GPS/IMU system was jointly developed by the Applied Artificial Intelligence Group (GIAA – Grupo de Inteligencia Aplicada Artificial) and the Systems Intelligence Laboratory (LSI – Laboratorio de Sistemas Inteligentes) at UC3M.
Continental acquires ASL Vision for 360-degree surround view technology
January 11, 2013
|360-degree surround detection optimally detects the entire vehicle surrounding and helps to safely master complex traffic situations. Source: Continental. Click to enlarge.|
International automotive supplier Continental has acquired ASL Vision, a provider of embedded video image processing and transmission solutions based in Lewes, England. ASL has developed the ASL360 Surround View camera system—a multi-camera system that processes video from multiple ultra-wide-angle cameras in a single, high performance Electronic Control Unit (ECU). The companies agreed not to disclose the price for the acquisition.
With the acquisition, Continental is adding “a strategically important building block”, 360-degree surround detection, while at the same time further developing its competence in the camera sector in a targeted way, said Friedrich Angerbauer, Head of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) Business Unit in the Continental Chassis & Safety Division. Continental is a leading suppliers of advanced driver assistance systems; the development of products and systems for automated driving is one of the central themes of its long-term technology strategy. (Earlier post.)
First generation of Bosch traffic jam assistant to enter series production in 2014
January 09, 2013
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.
Audi showcases future piloted driving technologies at CES; initial focus on traffic jams and parking
At the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, Audi AG presented technologies for networking the car with its environment, with a particular focus on future piloted driving and mobile communications. Piloted driving—i.e., the use of drive assistance systems that are able to assume the complete driving task for a limited period of time, if so desired by the driver—will be technically feasible before the decade is out, Audi says.
In congested traffic at speeds up to 60 km/h (37 mph), Audi’s piloted driving helps the driver to steer the car within certain limits. It also accelerates and brakes the vehicle autonomously. In future, piloted driving will also be able to maneuver the vehicle autonomously into and out of parking spaces—such as in tight roadside parking spaces, in garages, or even in parking garages.
TMC unveils Lexus advanced safety research vehicle at CES; elements of autonomous driving, but a focus on better drivers
January 07, 2013
|The Advanced Safety Research Vehicle. Click to enlarge.|
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and its Lexus Division unveiled its advanced active safety research vehicle, based on a Lexus LS hybrid, at the International CES today to demonstrate ongoing efforts around automated vehicle safety technologies and explain Toyota’s approach to reducing global traffic fatalities and injuries.
While key components of the research efforts could lead to a fully autonomous car in the future, the vision is not necessarily a car that drives itself. Instead, Toyota and Lexus envision technologies that enhance the skills of the driver, believing a more skillful driver is a safer driver.
VisLab: 3D computer vision for autonomous driving
December 20, 2012
by Bill Cooke
|VisLab 3D modeled view (foreground), bird’s-eye view (right) and photograph of scenario (back). Click to enlarge.|
As inventors across the world work to make autonomous driving a reality, one of the most basic problems is for the vehicle to perceive its surroundings. Google’s vehicles rely on a lidar (laser radar) system. Dr. Alberto Broggi of the University of Parma and a spinoff company, VisLab, in Northern Italy believes 3D computer vision is an affordable and aesthetically acceptable way to capture much of the same data.
A pioneer of machine vision applied to driverless cars and unmanned vehicles, Dr. Broggi is the principal investigator of multiple projects involving autonomous vehicles, such as the ARGO prototype vehicle, the TerraMax entry at the DARPA Grand Challenge and Urban Challenge, and BRAiVE. Under his leadership VisLab organized the first intercontinental driverless trip in history: VIAC - VisLab Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge. VisLab is involved in basic and applied research, developing machine vision algorithms and intelligent systems for different applications, primarily for the automotive field.
Continental focusing on automated driving as key long-term technology strategy; receives approval to test automated vehicles on Nevada roads
|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.
DARPA awards up to $20M to NVIDIA to research high-performance, highly energy-efficient embedded processors for autonomous vehicles
December 17, 2012
|DARPA is seeking a major increase in performance per watt for embedded processors. Source: DARPA. Click to enlarge.|
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) NVIDIA has awarded NVIDIA a contract worth up to $20 million to research embedded processor technologies that could lead to significant improvements in the ability of autonomous vehicles to collect and process data from on-board sensors.
The five-year contract, awarded under DARPA’s Power Efficiency Revolution For Embedded Computing Technologies (PERFECT) program, will fund research for processors that are 75-times more energy-efficient than current embedded solutions. The goal is to enable surveillance and computer vision systems in ground and airborne vehicles to collect and analyze vastly more data than can be processed today in real time.
VTTI team proposes optimization algorithm for driverless vehicles at unsignaled intersections
December 05, 2012
|The layout of the proposed multi-agent system (MAS) for driverless vehicles at intersections. Zohdy and Rakha. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) have developed a heuristic optimization algorithm for driverless vehicles at unsignalized intersections using a multi-agent system (MAS). Their research, presented at the Intelligent Transportation Society World Congress in Vienna in October, won the Best Scientific Paper Award for North America.
The system proposed by Ismail Zohdy, a Ph.D. student in civil engineering at Virginia Tech, and Hesham Rakha, director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility at the transportation institute and professor of civil engineering at the university, models the driverless vehicles as autonomous agents controlled by the intersection controller (manager agent).
Mercedes-Benz previews next-generation intelligent safety and driver assistance systems; “sensor fusion”
November 22, 2012
|Mercedes-Benz “Intelligent Drive” systems. Click to enlarge.|
Mercedes-Benz has augmented its driver assistance systems with new functions which are now able to support the driver in a broader range of situations. Using advanced sensor technology, they are able to monitor the area around the vehicle, providing the driver with warnings and support, and reducing driver workload. Mercedes-Benz calls the combination of sensors and systems to support these systems “Intelligent Drive”.
Mercedes-Benz recently previewed its next-generation intelligent safety and driver assistance systems for the next S-Class, which will make its own debut next year, at an “Intelligent Drive” TecDay in Stuttgart.
Toyota Motor introducing three new automated driver assistance safety systems; begins operations at new ITS Proving Ground
November 12, 2012
|TMC says that its PCS is effective at higher speeds. Click to enlarge.|
Toyota Motor Corporation has developed and will deploy in select upcoming vehicles three new automated driver assistance/safety systems: a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with collision avoidance that is effective at higher speeds; Intelligent Clearance Sonar that uses sonar to detect obstacles hidden from the driver’s view, automatically applying the brakes if the vehicle is at risk of collision; and Drive-start Control to control engine output to mitigate collisions that may occur as a result of erroneous gear shifting or pedal misapplication while the vehicle is stationary or moving at low speed.
TMC also began full-scale operations at its ITS Proving Ground, a new test site—within the grounds of the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Susono City, Shizuoka Prefecture—established with the aim of reducing traffic accidents through Intelligent Transport System (ITS) technology. The new 3.5-hectare ITS Proving Ground simulates an urban environment with faithfully replicated roads and traffic signals. The site is equipped with a road-to-vehicle communications system consisting of a vehicle detection system, a pedestrian detection system, a course monitoring system, traffic signals and control devices.
Bosch introducing new mid-range radar sensor, stereo-video sensor in 2014
October 30, 2012
As part of its work on developing new safety and driver assistance systems, Bosch will introduce a new mid-range 77 GHz radar sensor for front- and rear-end applications and a new stereo-video sensor.
77 Ghz radar. A leading European automaker is slated to deploy the new Bosch MRR rear mid-range radar sensor, which can precisely locate vehicles in blind spots or approaching from behind, in 2014. Compared to current 24-gigahertz solutions, this sensor is much more precise, with up to three times the ability to distinguish between objects and up to five times more accurate measurement of speed and distances, Bosch says.
Volvo Car Corp. demonstrates autonomous driving in traffic jams; traffic jam assistance system ready for production in 2014
October 23, 2012
As another step toward autonomous driving systems, Volvo Car Corporation is demonstrating a new traffic jam assistance system. The new system, whereby the car automatically follows the vehicle in front in slow-moving queues up to 50 km/h (31 mph), will be ready for production in 2014.
The traffic jam assistance function is an evolution of the current Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Aid technology, which was introduced in the all-new Volvo V40 earlier in 2012. The driver activates the traffic jam assistance function by pushing a button. When active, the engine, brakes and steering respond automatically.
Nissan introducing independent control electric steering technology; to be deployed on select Infiniti models within a year
October 17, 2012
|Components of the next-generation steering system. Click to enlarge.|
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. unveiled the first steering technology that allows independent control of a vehicle’s tire angle and steering inputs. This next-generation steering technology was developed by Nissan and will be deployed on select Infiniti models on sale within one year.
A conventional steering system directs tire movements by transmitting steering inputs to the tires via a mechanical link. Nissan’s next-generation steering technology interprets driver input via force applied to the steering wheel, which is fed to the system’s multiple redundant Electronic Control Units (ECUs). The ECUs translate this into instructions to the steering angle actuator, which causes the front wheels to turn. At the same time, the system transmits information from the road—in effect, what the wheels re feeling—from the steering angle actuator back to the ECUs. The ECUs then filter this information, passing on to the steering wheel only the feedback that the driver needs.
For example, even on a road surface with minor ridges or furrows, the driver no longer has to grip the steering wheel tightly and make detailed adjustments, so traveling on the intended path becomes easier.
The result is that the systems transmits the driver’s intentions to the wheels even faster than a mechanical system and increases the direct driving performance feel by quickly and intelligently communicating road surface feedback to the driver.
Accompanying this next-generation steering technology, Nissan has also developed a camera-based straight-line stability system to further enhance on-center driving capability. Another first, this system improves vehicle stability by making small input angle adjustments so the vehicle will accurately trace and continue as planned in the lane it is traveling.
If the vehicle direction changes due to road surface or crosswinds, the system acts to minimize the effect of these conditions resulting in reduced steering input from the driver.
Using a camera mounted above the vehicle’s rearview mirror, the system analyzes the road ahead, recognizes the lane direction, detects changes in the vehicle’s direction, and transmits this information to multiple electronic control units as electronic signals. If a discrepancy occurs, the system acts to reduce the discrepancy by controlling the opposing force to the tire angle. By reducing the frequency of detailed steering input adjustments, which are a cause of fatigue on long drives, the driver’s workload is greatly reduced.
This next-generation steering technology's high reliability is achieved by multiple ECUs. In the event a single ECU malfunctions, another ECU will instantly take control, and in extreme circumstances such as the power supply being disrupted, the backup clutch will act to connect the steering wheel and wheels mechanically, enabling continued safe travel.
Autonomous Emergency Steering System. Separately, in another steering technology development, Nissan announced its “Autonomous Emergency Steering System.”
This system offers a high level of collision avoidance capability by applying automatic braking and automatic steering in situations where a collision is imminent and evading obstacles by braking may not be effective. The system takes effect in situations where unpredictable risks arise, such as sudden intrusions onto the road in low speed zones, or when a collision at high speed is imminent due to the driver's delayed recognition of the tail end of a traffic jam.
Nissan has long worked on the development and commercialization of brake-based control technology. The company has recently promoted development of technology to deal with situations that cannot be mitigated through braking alone. In order to prevent an accident from occurring, technology is needed to identify potential obstacles. Nissan has succeeded in developing technology which, through high-precision sensing technology and on-board control technology, automatically steers the vehicle away from potential collisions, when braking alone is insufficient.
The Autonomous Emergency Steering System, using the information provided by the front-mounted radar and camera, the two left and right rear radars, and the five laser scanners attached around the vehicle, initially acts on a risk of collision that cannot be avoided by braking. Simultaneously, it checks if there is a forward zone free of obstacles and that there are no vehicles approaching from the rear, and then displays to the driver the direction that the vehicle should be steered. If the driver cannot immediately steer in that direction, the system takes over to automatically steer the vehicle to help avoid a collision.
|Click to enlarge.|
Nissan exhibiting prototype NSC-2015 vehicle for autonomous driving application at CEATEC JAPAN 2012
October 01, 2012
The car uses a remote monitoring system that recognizes the surrounding environment through use of an all-around view camera and 4G mobile communications. Different from a system using GPS to determine the car’s location, this system provides a precise recognition of the surrounding environment (even in underground parking lots) and makes use of various smartphone applications.
Volvo Car Corporation intends to lead in field of autonomous driving technology; targeting the next-generation of consumers
September 17, 2012
Volvo Car Corporation intends to gain leadership in the field of autonomous driving as the next major step forward in vehicle safety. Autonomous driving—the self-driving car—gives the human driver the ability safely to do something else besides drive, such as sending text messages or reading a book while the car drives itself. It will also likely be an important capability for attracting the next-generation of auto consumers, says Volvo Car Corporation President and CEO Stefan Jacoby.
The first focus areas in Volvo Car Corporation’s technology development are autonomous driving in slow-moving queues and, for the longer-term, road trains on motorways, as exemplified by the recently concluded SARTRE project. (Earlier post.)