Talking, seeing cars poised to evolve into autonomous vehicles

The deployment of fully autonomous vehicles faces technical and societal challenges as engineers deal with sensors and processors in both the vehicles and surrounding infrastructure and as governments deal with necessary changes in the rules of the road.

I have posted previously on evolving rules of the road (see “It's time to clarify autonomous-vehicle laws“) and the benefits of an on-demand autonomous-vehicle fleet (see “Professor and former GM exec charts bright automotive future with transformational change“). Now, a new report from IHS suggests how rapidly autonomous-vehicle technologies are being adopted, although one industry expert says the outcome of standards battles could affect the adoption of V2V (vehicle to vehicle), V2I (vehicle to infrastructure), and V2X (vehicle to everything) technologies and advanced driver assist systems (ADAS).

The IHS report focuses on embedded vision for automotive applications, forecasting that by 2016, revenue will amount to $187 million, up from $126 million in 2011.

“Embedded vision can improve automotive safety and convenience features in a number of ways, playing a key role in applications like lane departure warnings, collision mitigation, self-parking, and blind-spot notifications,” said Tom Hackenberg, principal analyst for embedded processors at IHS. “The total available market for embedded vision in under-the-hood automotive applications is massive, with the potential for installation in 94.7 million light vehicles by 2016, up from 71.1 million in 2011.” Read more here.

Embedded-vision technologies won't enable autonomous vehicle operation in the short run but will constitute the basis of an evolutionary approach when combined with other technologies, including radar, lidar, and V2V, V2I, and V2X technologies.

With respect, to V2V, V2I, and V2X technologies, Andrew Ashby, automotive business development manager at Plextek Consulting, writes in ElectronicsWeekly.com that the success of these connected-vehicle technologies depend on emergence of adequate standards and business models. “It is quite arguable that, without these in place, the technologies themselves will never become ubiquitous.”

Fortunately, he writes, multiple co-operative vehicle R&D programs are underway, such as the SPITS (Strategic Platform for Intelligent Transport Systems) trials in London and 15 European Commission 15 pilot programs in northern Europe, with new standards expected to be adopted in 2015.

“So with the first set of V2X standards now imminent, the opportunity for sensor system developers and manufacturers in this market is undoubtedly firming up,” he concludes.

On a related note, if you are interested in experimenting on your own with autonomous-vehicle technology, you might want to check out Global Specialties' RP6v2, a $199 C-programmable robotic vehicle. Click here for more.

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