Automated Driving and Connectivity
Intelligent connectivity and digitization, both inside and outside the vehicle, will play an ever more important role in the future.
Automated driving refers to the capability of a vehicle to drive itself independently to a destination in realworld traffic, using its onboard sensors, associated software, and maps stored in the vehicle so that it can recognize its surroundings.
Depending on the use case, the vehicle is therefore able to carry out the relevant driving task. However, the automated driving functions may be considerably expanded in the medium and long term with the aid of connectivity.
Connectivity is the name given to communication between one vehicle and another, and between a vehicle and the infrastructure, for instance with traffic lights or traffic control systems. Within the field of connected mobility, car-to-X communication (C2X) refers to direct communication both between vehicles (car-to-car/C2C) and between vehicles and the stationary infrastructure (car-toinfrastructure/ C2I). Car-to-X communication enables vehicles to collect information in a fraction of a second – for example about traffic light sequences and construction sites – either from preceding vehicles or from traffic management systems – and to process this information immediately.
The most important aspect here is road safety. Car-to-X communication warns and informs the driver within a short time about hazardous situations such as accidents, black ice, breakdown vehicles, and congestion along the route, even if they are not yet visible from the vehicle. During an automated journey, the vehicle could brake independently in such cases, or change lanes to pass the hazard at a safe distance without the driver having to intervene. Under adverse environmental conditions such as snow, fog, or dirt on the road surface, information that cannot be collected in full by the vehicle’s sensors can be supplemented with information arriving via car-to-X communication. This represents an ideal addition to automated driving.
Furthermore, innovative technologies make it possible to achieve greater comfort and significant time savings for the driver and the passengers. Intelligently connecting vehicles and parking spaces offers the potential of markedly shortening the time needed to find a parking spot and of the car simply parking itself at the press of a button. For example, a fully automated vehicle can find its allocated parking space in connected parking lots – without any driver. The driver first parks the vehicle in a special transfer zone and then activates the parking function. To pick up their vehicle, the driver activates the function in this zone and the vehicle arrives by itself to meet the driver.
Worldwide connectivity in the field of traffic, as part of the digital revolution, suggests possible solutions that combine greater safety, sparing use of resources, and mobility, plus growth and participation in that growth. Exchange of information, communication, and the use of telematics, that is, linking the fields of telecommunication and information technology, will all be of key importance for the future of automobiles and of traffic.