The Evolution of Driving Functions - From Assistance to Automatic Machines
Today a large number of driver assistance systems is available for almost all vehicles. They ensure stability in critical situations, maintain a safe distance to the vehicle in front, and support the driver while parking. Monitoring the surroundings in all directions requires data and information from the vehicle’s sensors (ultrasound, radar, cameras).
The capabilities of the sensors and the data processing by the control units are continually growing, and highly advanced software is used to analyze this information in fractions of a second. In the future, passenger cars and commercial vehicles will have a complete image of the surroundings in real time.
Radar sensors that are usually located in the front and rear of the vehicle can detect other vehicles and obstacles. The rear sensor detects traffic approaching from behind and vehicles that are overtaking. The traffic in front is monitored by longrange radar. The short-range radar surveys the vehicle’s immediate surroundings.
Cameras are used, for instance to recognize lane markings, traffic signs, traffic lights, and other road users.
Ultrasound sensors have been installed in vehicles from the beginning of the nineties, to help drivers maneuver into parking spaces. Since then, their range of functions has increased markedly. They can measure parking spaces while the vehicle is in motion, and detect vehicles driving in an adjacent lane.
In the past, radar, cameras, and ultrasound sensors were used for separate functions, but now all the relevant data can be linked intelligently and simultaneously by sensor fusion. That makes automated driving possible in the first place. Special attention is paid to functional safety.
The inclusion of redundancies and plausibility checks – that is, the system’s internal check on whether the environmental data have been recorded correctly – prevents erroneous interpretation of the data. The signals from the vehicle sensors are compared with one another. Only if the data are consistent will the system actuate the steering and the engine.
The automated driving functions include “highway driving,” which in the case of highly automated driving will be used up to a defined speed on highways and similar roads. The driver can choose when to activate the system and does not have to monitor it continuously. This takes away some of the stress of driving, and in certain situations they will be prompted in good time to resume the task of driving. In the case of fully automated driving, the driver does not have to monitor the system at all. In the distant future, in built-up areas the driving function “urban driving” will make it possible to drive on various routes without the driver intervening at all. In this case the driver will be free to use the time on the road as they choose.
Automated driving will contribute to a new quality of mobility.