The autonomous vehicle is often presented as the indispensable technological object of the future. This subject has always interested scientists and investors willing to shell out impressive sums of money to obtain this market. However, seeing a vehicle driving without a driver has always scared people. People creating videos on the Youtube platform have also made experiments proving that people were not reassured.
A new need that works?
Now we have to define what an autonomous car is. To do this, we will see how it works and how it can be distributed between several levels according to human intervention and then what need is associated with it. An autonomous vehicle must be able to circulate in total or partial autonomy, in this case, we will speak of a semi-autonomous vehicle. These vehicles use advanced technologies to operate safely. Such machines require less or no attention. Semi-autonomous cars are mostly able to keep a speed or limit themselves to it (regulator and speed limiter), others can stay in a lane or follow another vehicle. Another level of autonomy characterizes vehicles that can take control of the vehicle over short distances in case the driver requires it.
Levels of autonomy
Level 1: The driver is the master of his car and the onboard computer cannot control the car at any time.
Level 2: The driver has some driving aids, such as steering or speed control. Cruise control can be one of these driving aids.
Level 3: The driver can be assisted by driving aids. Steering and speed control can work at the same time.
Level 4: The driver can delegate his role for a few seconds. For example: during a traffic jam.
Level 5: This level is not authorized in France, because the laws are contrary to this level. This is where progress stops in France. The car can drive on its own for short distances to park and other places.
Level 6: This level is the so-called level of autonomy, the car is completely autonomous and only requires the place of destination to start driving.
Human VS Machine
The figures speak for themselves: half of the fatal accidents are due to alcohol consumption or fatigue.
Assuming an obstacle is at its maximum range, the time for sound to return to the sensors is approximately 0.05 seconds.
We can leave in the context that the vehicle runs along a line of stationary cars and that a balloon appears 5 meters away: At such a distance, a human driving at 30 km/h with his reaction time would not have had the time to act while the autonomous vehicle would even have had time to stop when it only detected the obstacle 8 meters in front of it!
But all these concerns only ultrasonic sensors, the others work with light which has such a speed that the detection and reaction times are almost instantaneous. Indeed, most sensors work with light, whether cameras combined with high-performance recognition algorithms or radio wave radars. In addition, depending on the arrangement of the lenses, you can either create wide-angle cameras (often around 140°) or long-range cameras that can go up to 250m (see: braking distances graph)!
Manufacturers can also put as many cameras as they want to have full coverage around the whole vehicle but of course, they have to make these cars the most affordable for the public.
Previously, we saw the super-human capabilities of self-driving vehicles and… It is indeed super-human:
A driver can only see ahead, where his eyes are. Mirrors are of course very important, but there are still blind spots that require at least head movement, called blind spots, and which are often the cause of fatal accidents.
This diagram roughly shows the viewing angles but we can clearly see the blind spots in purple:
South Korea has also undertaken work to make its own test city, twice as large and under the name K-City.
For the experiment, we have already looked for what we wanted to show by an experiment.
We finally decided to look into the sensors used by an autonomous car. We had the choice between sensors of different kinds, the lidar, which is an extremely expensive sensor, cameras, radars, or even ultrasound sensors. Our choice turned to the ultrasonic sensor, it is not expensive, is easy to use, and is quite reliable.
The limits of the autonomous car
Many laws are against the use and marketing of self-driving cars. If we want, one day, to see autonomous cars on French roads, many changes in the texts of laws are necessary.
The Vienna legislation of 1968 prevents the circulation of self-driving cars:
Any moving vehicle or any set of moving vehicles must have a driver.
every driver must be in control of his vehicle, and therefore have both hands on the wheel.
In France, new laws allow the circulation of so-called trial cars in certain cities such as Rouen.
In Europe, many countries have already authorized the circulation of autonomous cars. Belgium, and Germany, are examples to follow for France.
There are also several states in the United States that have already changed their laws allowing for a breakthrough in research and testing.
Another limit is the software compatibility between the different systems, that is to say, the ability of two cars equipped with a different operating system, to consider each other, because the advantage of an autonomous car is the fact it is able to connect with nearby cars to exchange information.
Recently hackers have succeeded in unlocking cars that are not autonomous by intercepting the digital code of contactless keys (which look like a kind of card).
The enormous cost of the autonomous car is a major obstacle to its development, this cost is strongly due to the sensors and the computer system on board, certainly, this will reduce mortality on the roads but at a price too high for the moment in all case.
How to choose the right insurance for your vehicle?
If you have decided to buy a car, you will have to think about choosing insurance.
Start by listing your needs
To do this, you can in particular draw up a list of elements that you think are essential to take into account for your future contract:
⦁ The availability of customer service in the event of a question or problem;
⦁ Coverage and/or the number of reimbursements in the event of repairs to your vehicle;