Home' Australian Automotive Aftermarket Magazine : Australian Auto Aftermarket e-Zine - Mar 13 Contents AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET MAGAZINE MARCH 2013 39
All major vehicle manufacturers are
researching and developing autonomous
vehicles to improve the safety and convenience
Many of these manufacturers have put some
autonomous driving technology in their
premium models such as active cruise control,
lane departure warning and drowsiness alert
It is interesting to note that some of this
technology is already filtering down into entry
For example, the Volkswagen UP city car, a
sub $15,000 car, has a laser based emergency
braking system which monitors the area ahead
of the vehicle and primes the brakes if it detects
a hazard and if a collision is imminent it will
apply the brakes and minimise the chance of
Mercedes Benz has announced that the all
new E series just released at the 2013 Detroit
Motor Show and the upcoming S class, to be
released later this year, will incorporate new
assistance systems called Intelligent Drive.
Some of the new and upgraded functions of
the system include steering assistance to help
the driver to keep the vehicle centred in its lane
and can automatically follow the car in front in
slow moving traffic.
Intersection assistance detects crossing
traffic and pedestrians and boosts braking
power applied by the driver as necessary and at
speeds up to 50kph, the system can detect
pedestrians and autonomously brake the vehicle
to avoid collision.
Automated parking uses active braking and
steering control for parallel and perpendicular
parking while active lane keeping assist now
detects if the adjacent lane is not clear
including when it is occupied by oncoming
The centrepiece of this functionality is the
introduction of a stereo camera which is
capable of three dimensional detection of
crossing objects and pedestrians, calculating
The camera's two 'eyes' provide it with a
three-dimensional view of the area up to 50
metres in front of the vehicle and it is able to
monitor the overall situation ahead for a range
of up to 500 metres.
In this way, the new camera is able to
provide data for processing by various systems.
Intelligent algorithms evaluate this
information in order to detect and carry out
spatial classification of both vehicles that are
driving ahead, oncoming or crossing, as well as
pedestrians and a variety of traffic signs within
a large field of vision.
Whereas the stereo cameras act as the
vehicle's eyes, radar sensors are its 'ears'.
All up the Mercedes Benz system consists
of four cameras, six radar sensors and 12
Volvo recently issued a press release stating
that "our vision is that no one is killed or injured
in a new Volvo from 2020".
According to Volvo, the biggest hurdle is not
the technology which is largely developed but
public acceptance and issues such as whether
it would be the driver or the manufacturer liable
in the case of a collision.
Moves are already underway to amend
international laws which would remove current
blocks to fully autonomous vehicles.
For example in Europe the Vienna
Convention for Road Traffic, which underpins
EU and UK law, states that the driver must be
in control of the vehicle at all times but new
technology means that this need not be the
Following the success of Nevada's bill to
allow self-driving vehicles, a number of other
states in the US, including California, are ready
to change legislation to also allow self-driving
vehicles on the road.
Quite apart from the improvements to
comfort and safety, research undertaken by
Colombia University shows that intelligent or
autonomous cars could boost the capacity of
existing road infrastructure by a staggering 270
The improvement comes about simply due
to the fact that cars can safely travel closer
The study showed that at 100kph, if all
vehicles were fitted with adaptive cruise control,
highway capacity would increase by around 40
In the case where all cars are autonomous or
semi-autonomous, fitted with sensors and car
to car communication, the increase in highway
efficiency is 270 percent.
Yet another advantage of autonomous
vehicles is that it will allow seniors to retain the
freedom and independence they cherish by
offering continued mobility as their driving skills
This technology could reduce the
dependency of seniors on supporting services
and thereby reducing community resourcing
Interiors control design
As infotainment and telematics systems
become more complex, the clear industry trend
is towards the simplification of automotive
Interiors being developed by all
manufacturers go one step further, with the
ultimate goal being to replace conventional
knobs, buttons and switches with intuitive
gesture and voice recognition systems.
The latest attempt of interior control
simplification is available in the 2013 Cadillac
XTS and ATS sedans.
Known as CUE, which stands for Cadillac
User Experience, this system uses an eight inch
touch LCD which controls all navigation, audio
and ventilation functions without the need for
buttons or switches.
The LCD screen resembles a smartphone
screen by using large easy to target icons to
CUE can be controlled from three points --
the steering wheel, centre stack and voice
It is believed that CUE is even capable of
recognising hand gestures although the software
for this feature has been turned off subject to
An optional 12.3-inch digital instrument
cluster, which replaces the traditional analogue
gauges with a large LCD screen, can be
configured to the driver's liking.
CUE software can be upgraded during the
life of the vehicle, so CUE should never become
To overcome some of the consumer concerns
about earlier systems such as Mercedes Benz
Command and BMW iDrive, Cadillac provides
an iPad app to simulate the screen and
functions of CUE to enable users to learn to use
this system in the comfort of their own home.
The initial reaction and reviews of CUE have
been mixed and Cadillac has already planned
software upgrades from March this year.
Acknowledgement of assistance in preparation
of this article to BMW, Audi, Volvo, General
Motors and Lexus.
BMW i8 concept vehicle with laser headlamps
Cadillac CUE System
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