Driverless cars and Intelligent Transport Systems – dreams of the future, or soon to be reality?

In our ever faster moving world, mobility is a key factor in the lives of many. Terms like eMobility, self-driving cars, and autonomous cars are entering our daily vocabulary. But how close is the reality and what are the benefits?

A recent press release by the Car 2 Car Communication Consortium, a non-profit, industry driven organisation initiated by European vehicle manufacturers, provided an insight into the current status of vehicle communication, both to each other and to the surrounding infrastructure. The press release provided an update on the technology and about how ultimately this progress will make traffic and transport “safer, more sustainable and more comfortable” in Europe and internationally.

Provided these issues can be overcome, this communication will enable vehicles and roadside ITS stations (Intelligent Transportation Systems) to locally share information in an ad-hoc network, informing the driver of current traffic conditions and provide immediate warnings regarding potential dangers. This will contribute to enhanced traffic safety, efficiency and driving comfort.

Although progress in the industry is being made to get us closer to this goal, there are still challenges that need to be overcome to do so.

Manufacturers, equipment suppliers, and infrastructure authorities understand that if self-driving cars are to become a reality, they will have to collaborate. The Consortium is a good example of what such collaboration looks like. 16 vehicle manufacturers, 36 equipment suppliers and 28 research organisations are working together with a key focus to develop innovation in communication between vehicles, and between vehicle and infrastructure.

For a self-driving car to function properly and be safe on the road it needs to be able to communicate with other vehicles and the surrounding infrastructure, and systems to enable this are vital in this process. Initial deployment of cooperative vehicles is currently planned for 2019, however many technical issues have to be considered along the way (for example potential interference with road tolling).

Technical issues such as this will need to be ironed out in future studies to ensure the safety and reliability of the systems in place for autonomous vehicles to ever hit our streets.

But, these are not the only challenges. Other issues, such as security and privacy policies, have so far delayed the deployment of the new technology. In Europe, a mandate has been completed (the European Commission Mandate M/453), but it may need to be revised to compensate for additional infrastructural and national stakeholder requirements. However, there is still a need for further legislation before driver-less cars become a reality.

Self-driving cars have been a dream of mankind pretty much since the invention of the automobile, and although we are closer to achieving this than ever, there is still much work to be done. However, with organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in North America, intending to mandate vehicle-to-vehicle technology, we are one step closer to achieving the dream of self-driving cars, and less congested, accident-free roads.

Paul Fielden

Global and European Automotive Sector Leader Delivering Mobililty Solutions +44 7764 146 068 Ask me a question
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