Vehicles that partially drive themselves will be available by the middle of the decade with more sophisticated self-driving systems by the end of the decade, General Motors Vice President of Global Research and Development Alan Taub told the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Orlando on Sunday. These advances in autonomous vehicle technology are built on leading-edge advanced active safety systems, Taub said.
Sensors, radars, portable communication devices, GPS and cameras are the tools that supply critical information to the driver and the automobile’s computer system. Combined with digital maps, the same technologies will allow the driver to let the vehicle concentrate on driving while he or she does something else.
The technologies we’re developing will provide an added convenience by partially or even completely taking over the driving duties. The primary goal, though, is safety. Future generation safety systems will eliminate the crash altogether by interceding on behalf of drivers before they’re even aware of a hazardous situation.—Alan Taub
GM and other automakers are already putting some of these advanced safety systems into their vehicles.
Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems gather information from other vehicles, roadways and traffic signals to warn drivers about possible hazards ahead, including slowed or stalled vehicles, hard-braking drivers, slippery roads, sharp curves and upcoming stop signs and intersections. These systems, on display this week at the ITS World Congress, can be embedded in the vehicle or be added as applications to portable devices/smartphones that connect wirelessly to the vehicle.
GM’s Chevrolet EN-V urban mobility concept (earlier post) combines GPS with vehicle-to-vehicle communications and distance-sensing technologies to enable autonomous driving. The EN-V’s capabilities being demonstrated at the ITS World Congress include pedestrian detection, collision avoidance, platooning and automated parking and retrieval, where the EN-V drops off its driver, parks itself and then returns to pick up the driver via commands from a smartphone.
In the coming years, we believe the industry will experience a dramatic leap in active safety systems, and, hopefully, a dramatic decline in injuries and fatalities on our roadways. GM has made a commitment to be at the forefront of this development.—Alan Taub
GM has been a leader in developing autonomous vehicle technology, having worked with Carnegie Mellon University to develop the “The Boss” Chevrolet Tahoe that brought autonomous vehicle operation to life in 2007 and won the DARPA Urban Challenge. The event required teams to build a driverless vehicle capable of driving in traffic and performing complex maneuvers such as merging, passing, parking and negotiating intersections over a 60-mile course.