Partially Automated Driving
Partially automated solutions are no longer experimental. In fact, they have proven so effective that they are being mandated in many locations. Vehicle automation is now able to handle increasingly complex tasks – such as parking. It is expected that this situation will continue to evolve, with more and more functionality becoming available to drivers over time.
Parking assistance systems – activated by the driver – help drivers to park their cars. They use proximity sensors – such as sonar and cameras – to determine the appropriate steering and braking needed to place the vehicle safely parallel to the curb or directly into a parking bay. In some cases, drivers still need to partially control the vehicle – in others the parking task is fully automated. Car manufacturers are continuing to invest in improving the systems available.
For public transport – such as guided buses – precision docking solutions using optical or magnetic sensors can improve passenger safety and the efficiency of boarding and disembarking. This can help to reduce overall travel times. Systems have been deployed in France, the Netherlands, and the USA.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
ESC technology combines steering and braking control to prevent vehicles from skidding. When the ESC system identifies that the vehicle is not going in the direction in which the driver is steering, it automatically applies brakes to the wheels to manage vehicle direction. In some cases, the ESC system may also manage engine power or adjust the transmission. These systems have been mandated in Australia, the USA and Europe on certain types of vehicles.
Adaptive/Active Cruise Control
Adaptive Cruise Control builds on traditional cruise control systems by adding sensors which track the distance to the car ahead. Drivers can set a desired following distance – and the ACC
system will automatically slow or accelerate the vehicle to maintain that distance within a certain range of speeds and stopping distances. If action outside of that range is needed (such as a sudden hard stop), the ACC
system will warn the driver to take action. An extended form of ACC
– often referred to as “stop and go” – has become available. This type of system can take full control of acceleration, deceleration and braking at low speeds – to assist driving in heavy congestion.
Active Braking describes a range of systems which help to stop the vehicle quickly in the case of an emergency. In some cases, the system applies additional braking pressure to that already being applied by the driver in an emergency stop. Other systems use radar and image sensors to detect potential hazards and activate the brakes to operate at full pressure as soon as the driver applies them. Some systems will automatically apply the brakes without any intervention by the driver – if the vehicle sensors identify the need for an emergency stop.