The full connective autonomous car. Cars that aren’t only self-driving, but also communicate with other cars. These full connective autonomous cars don’t just ‘talk’ with each other but also with several points on the road, is there going to be a traffic jam? The car will take a different route, by itself. This makes the driver as we know him now unnecessary. Sending an email in the car on your way to work? No problem.
From march 26 to march 31, the AutoMotive Week 2017 will take place at the Automotive Campus in Helmond. A week that’s organised by 14 parties that are thinking about the future of mobility. Under the motto ‘learning by doing’ – because just thinking isn’t enough – there is a lot to do and experience. The theme of the week is: Where Smart Mobility meets Traffic.
A scenario for the far future? Possibly. But things can go very fast, says Bram Hendrix of AutomotiveNL at the Automotive Campus in Helmond. As an example he mentions a video about telephones, which was made in 1999. “Nobody saw anything good in such a device. But look at the situation today, the smart phone has become indispensable in our lives.”
According to Hendrix there always has to be someone to be the first to embrace a technology. He laughs: “When the first mobile phones appeared, they looked like fridges, moreover, no one had such a thing so who were you supposed to call?” But more and more people purchased a ‘fridge’ and the phones became smaller over time. “It went unbelievably fast, especially realising that people were very sceptical when internet became available on mobile phones.” Technology is improving in little steps and more and more people are convinced of the benefits of it. That’s also how it goes in the automotive industry.
“Cars are taking over more and more people’s tasks. It started with the cruise control, that maintains a certain speed, set by the user. When the driver brakes, the cruise control is turned of. The cars that are appearing on the market today are taking a step further. These are equipped with adaptive cruise control. This form of cruise control scans the road and reacts on other road users. This way the speed of the car is adapted to the car in front of the driver.”
People were again quite hesitant about this at first. An example from 2014:
“But as soon as they see the technology is working, they let go of most of the fear. It becomes something that’s generally accepted.” As an example Hendrix mentions parking automatically. “Those are also tasks that have been taken over by cars and that are going very well.”
“The next step in this technology is for ACC’s (adaptive cruise control) to communicate with each other. We are calling this the CACC. Connected adaptive cruise control or cooperative adaptive cruise control. That’s were it becomes really interesting. Cars can let each other know where they’re driving and where they have to go. That way a car can make space without providing any additional braking.” Because many of the traffic jams are caused by human behaviour, not giving each other space, miscommunication or braking often. Hendrix shows a video in which a group of car drivers are instructed to drive in circles with thirty km/h. “Look at how quickly it goes wrong, automatic systems that are communicating with each other are much better at this. Theoretically they could also do it at high speed.”
According to Hendrix it isn’t necessary to connect everyone at once to the CACC system. “A research done by the TU Delft shows that when 10% of the people are driving cooperatively, there would be 30% less traffic jams.”
There are currently several tools available to assist car drivers. “That is the last step towards automation. I drive with MobilEye, this systems advises me through beeps. When I cross a line, or I come to close to the car in front of me. It is a tool that makes the driving experience more pleasant and safe. In the project Spookfiles A58 several services have been developed to prevent traffic jams that have occurred for no apparent reason. Two of these services are now being used: ZOOF and FlowPatrol. These apps give advice. You can stick to it, or ignore it completely.
He thinks this won’t be possible in the future. “Because everything is going to change.” When? “I can’t predict that. But the world of traffic and mobility is going to change. That’s for sure.”