Bosch already provides high-performance assistance systems, including Adaptive Cruise Control and Predictive Emergency Braking System, to help drivers reach their destinations safely and more comfortably.
Its technologies can also alert drivers to traffic jams and redirect them, as well as manoeuvre vehicles into the tightest of parking spaces. In the near future, Bosch’s systems will extend to a traffic jam assistant, which will brake, accelerate, and steer vehicles autonomously at speeds between 0 and 30 miles per hour.
Last year, Bosch surveyed UK motorists about their attitudes towards autonomous driving, finding that nearly one in three drivers would already consider buying a vehicle that could be driven autonomously. More than a quarter of drivers – and more than half of young drivers – said they would enjoy an autonomous car as much as driving themselves.
“The traffic jam assistant helps drivers arrive more relaxed at their destination, even in dense traffic,” said Gerhard Steiger, president of the Bosch Chassis Systems Control division. No doubt many UK motorists who thought an autonomous car would be as enjoyable as driving themselves were imagining a vehicle that could relieve the stress of the daily commute.
The first generation of the traffic jam assistant is expected to enter series production in 2014. In the following years, the feature will be enhanced to cover ever-faster speeds and more complex driving situations.
Eventually, the traffic jam assistant will make fully autonomous driving a reality.
Adaptive Cruise Control already uses front-mounted sensors to keep a safe distance from the preceding vehicle in front, with Land Departure Warning using lane-detection cameras to keep vehicles on course. For fully autonomous driving, the next step would be automatic lane changing, which would require firstly a rear-mounted sensor to detect vehicles approaching from behind and secondly a dynamic navigation system to keep drivers informed of traffic situations and local speed restrictions.
Bosch offers its vehicle manufacturer customers all of the sensors and systems required in developing autonomous driving technologies. For example, Bosch’s high-performance long-range radar sensor can detect objects up to 250 metres away. In addition, a stereo video camera can detect objects in 3D, calculating how far objects are away from a vehicle, as well as the direction in which they are moving.
“Fully autonomous driving will come about one step at a time,” Steiger says. At first, driving on highways with an ever greater degree of automation and at ever higher speeds will be possible, until the highway pilot can take over the entire trip.
“Two major challenges remain: first, inner-city driving, since automated vehicle functions have to deal with dense traffic involving a large number of road users traveling in every direction; and second, developing a concept to ensure that the system’s functions operate reliably in all types of driving situation.