The autonomous car edges towards reality!

The concept that makes the autonomous car so attractive is simple:  a vehicle that can operate virtually 100% of the time without any human intervention.

Just imagine a car that will contribute to a 90% reduction in accidents, and can take you to a mass transit terminal or to work, then return home and take the kids to school, then park in a safe place and wait for the next “Order”.

In fact, we are still quite a ways off from this capability.

Driver Assistance Systems have been around since the year 2000, telling the driver the car is close to a curb or another object, parking automatically, or locating an obstacle and applying the brakes automatically.

Given the attention and development efforts by manufacturers and specialised suppliers, the individual systems required to implement full automation are in fact already available or close to it. This includes cameras, radars, lasers, electronic actuation of the throttle, brakes and steering, and GPS location and route planning.

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We are still not there yet, as the automation will need very precise, up-to-date mapping, as well as evolving driving conditions, weather, traffic, accidents and construction sites.

These algorithms already exist, but will require much more streaming information to determine and then adjust the route to live evolving situations.

The second major challenge is the integration and testing of all the individual systems that will work together to ensure reliable and safe operation of the vehicle.

Massive software must be developed and tested to ensure the effective control and operation of throttle-by-wire, electronic ABS brakes, steering, along with ignition, injection and security controls.

The systems must also be effective in all road and weather condition, such as rain, snow or ice, holes and bumps, and construction. Ideally, these systems will not require any special road infrastructures, thereby greatly reducing implementation costs.

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The calibration of the integrated cameras is already a critical element in the safe and precise operation of the new systems.

Manufacturers are likely to offer calibration service via their dealer networks after having carried out repairs or replacement of the windshield.

Speedy Glass already offers these calibration services in Canada, as well as producing Compliance Certificates to demonstrate that the calibration work has been carried out at the correct specifications, for financial, legal and insurance purposes.

Speedy Glass and its parent, Belron Group, has prepared for these technical services, with equipment, work procedures and trained specialists to carry out the work already in place in key locations across Canada.

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On the developmental side, there is still a lot of work to do to achieve reliable standards of safety and security in the final product. Developers need to code and test interfaces, test the complete system in real-life conditions and update system quickly in case of failure.

Specialists look to the year 2035 for acceptance by the public and implementation of the fully automated car as we see it today.

Finally, we do not know exactly how much this project will cost, or even how big the savings will be from reducing accident by up to 90% for the industry at large, including medical, financial and insurance considerations.

Excerpts from a presentation by Mr. Gabriel Gélinas given at the « Best Of Belron” day on January 15th, 2016, in Montreal.

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