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Smart Industry 1/2018

Smart Industry 1/2018 - The IoT Business Magazine - powered by Avnet Silica


Smart Business Title Story: Self-driving cars between Merzig in Germany and Metz in France, and was recently extended to Luxemburg. In March 2017, 29 European countries signed a Letter of Intent to intensify cooperation on testing of automated road transport in cross-border test sites. An additional test field was added in September 2017 connecting Rotterdam and Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Antwerp in Belgium, Porto and Evora in Portugal, Vigo and Merida in Spain, Tromsø in Norway, and Oulu in Finland. Another initiative, called the Nordic Way, is a pilot project that seeks to enable cars to share safety-hazard alerts through cellular networks on a road corridor through Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Agriculture is another hot candidate for self-driving vehicles. It is expected that a fully automatic tractor will be available in 2018. Austrian vendor Lindner demonstrated the necessary technology during Agritechnica in Hannover in November 2017. According to the McKinsey report Smart Moves Required – The Road Towards Artificial Intelligence in Mobility, robo-taxis could represent the future. These self-driving taxis could disrupt the auto industry. But it doesn’t end there. For some services the road may be abandoned completely. A fully auto-piloted airtaxi service based on Chinese-made E-Hang 184 aircraft has been flying passengers on selected routes within Dubai since October 2017. photo © Ertico Road smarts Traffic infrastructures will eventually need to be in constant communication with autonomous vehicles to avoid an accident,” Zannoni adds – and that kind of development would have a profound safety benefit. Along more rural roads data relating to parameters such as atmospheric temperature or the temperature of a bridge deck would also improve safety and some of that could come from V2V communication. “If a vehicle hits a patch of ice it can share that data through edge computing or the cloud to warn other cars or send a message to maintenance crews,” says Zannoni. Of all the key technologies needed to aid the progress of autonomy, getting accurate vehicle location information is perhaps the most important. GPS in cities isn’t accurate enough, according to Zannoni, due to “urban canyoning,” the blocking of GPS signals in built-up areas. To try to overcome this, peer-to-peer sensors were set up in New York’s Manhattan district, with funding from the US Department of Transportation, and the result was improved locational accuracy to a tolerance of two centimeters; much better than with traditional GPS. Zannoni says that, while autonomous technology is already a reality, it will be a while before we see a society of autonomous cars. “A car can operate by itself but, when you put it around other cars or involve traffic police or pedestrians, its performance has problems,” he says. The challenge therefore is to get it to work successfully in society. Zannoni explains: “That's why I think it's vital to have infrastructure that can communicate with autonomous vehicles and deal with congestion.” The smart money is on infrastructure The infrastructure will become a key element in the operation of autonomous vehicles, agrees Walter Sullivan, who is head of the innovation lab at Elektrobit, a maker of embedded and connected technology for the automotive sector, based in Erlangen, Germany. The potential for smart infra structure is tremendous, he believes – from efficient distribution of traffic through the road network, to optimized, automatic notification of breakdown service vehicles, to improved response times from firstresponder services. With the help of smart infrastructure, for example, paths and roadways can be cleared and roadways can be coordinated with public transit. “The scenarios are bounded only by imagination and ability to invest,” says Sullivan, adding that making the 20

transition to more capable mobility services in urban planning means the infrastructure we currently put aside for parking of vehicles can be reconsidered and perhaps reduced. A key issue will be cost-effectiveness. “Infrastructure which is meant to cooperate, or interact, with autonomous vehicles will naturally be built out where autonomous vehicles are concentrated – and that is unlikely to be in rural areas,” he says. “It really comes down to utilization and cost-benefit.” Street cab named desire could be the key Given the role of smart infrastructure in powering the future of road transportation, what is the realistic outlook for autonomy? “We probably have a similar view to commercialization as many others do. Autonomy has the opportunity to be introduced into targeted vehicle fleets operating in geographically restricted areas at first,” Sullivan replies. The kinds of fleets he believes will be targets for autonomy would typically be operated by mobility, cargo, or transportation companies, and have relatively high utilization rates. That, in turn, provides more justification for the costs needed to implement an autonomous system, which will take us into the first half of the 2020s and will include L4 and L5 levels of autonomy, he predicts. “In parallel [with targeted vehicle fleets], we'll see increasing L2 and L3 implementations reaching commercialization in traditional passenger vehicles,” Sullivan says. As we progress through the decade more people will have access to fully autonomous vehicles through different mobility services that they might use, such as rental vehicles or even taxi services like Uber or Lyft. Along the way, consumers will gradually develop confidence and comfort in the vehicles' capabilities, he says. In the second half of the 2020s and early 2030s, Sullivan predicts we will see L4 autonomy introduced into cars which are more in the mainstream of those vehicles consumers can buy. “There may be early versions of L4 systems introduced into high-end vehicles in the latter half of the 2020s but they are not likely affordable for the typical car buyer. The industry still has some tough challenges to overcome, however at this time the focus and progress of the industry are rather promising,” he says. Deployment of self-driving vehicles does have risks. “We are still working on perfecting some of the foundational technology, from the sensors to be used, to the algorithms, and AI that will act on the data our sensors give us,” explains Sullivan. As an automotive industry software company helping carmakers to scale up from traditional driver assistance to L4 and L5 autonomy, Elektrobit is, in general, optimistic about the future. “I believe that from a technology perspective, we will solve those challenges and the risks therefore will be more related to acceptance, regulation, security, and demonstrated safety improvements,” predicts Sullivan. Safety first for self-driving breakthrough Is the public really interested in autonomous vehicles or do they just want safer ones? Sullivan reckons the answer probably depends on how the products are presented. If people can have point-to-point transportation which is safer, cheaper, and more convenient than driving their own car, then the value proposition would be compelling, he believes. The experience for most people in the first years of autonomy will be through ride-hailing and sharing. Sullivan’s view for those attracted to a ride hailing service is that it will be a safer and probably cheaper alternative offering the same or a better quality of service. Ken Philmus, senior director for global business development at Conduent Transportation, agrees. “I’m confident that autonomous vehicles are inevitable but full integration is clearly not in the near future as there is a tremendous amount of work to be done to gain consumer acceptance,” he says. There are over 40 US companies testing different prototypes of autonomous You don’t see carmakers coordinating with government; they are just going along on their own Mark Zannoni research director for smart cities and transportation at IDC Government Insight vehicles yet standards to allow them to work with one another are just beginning to be developed at the federal level. According to Philmus, “as integration moves forward there may initially be separate lanes for autonomous vehicles or even a focus on autonomous freight movement.” Smoke without fire is the main obstacle Full autonomous vehicle implementation can't be achieved without the ability to obtain information about road and traffic conditions. Along the way, traffic management as we know it today will be very different. For example, traffic management centers will become communication centers that not only share information with each other but also with vehicles in “absolute real time,” according to Philmus. This will require massive infrastructure changes. Although the technical challenges can be mastered, drivers will be the greatest hurdle. “People who simply enjoy driving (…) will see autonomous vehicles as taking away their personal freedom,” he says. Drawing an analogy between driving and cigarette smoking, Philmus adds: “Despite all the clear evidence that not smoking will prevent illness and death, millions still do and seemingly will always continue to smoke. I’m confident that we will see the same types of resistance at the various imp lementation stages of autonomous vehicles.” 21