Driving a coach is a huge responsibility as it involves getting passengers to their destination safely and in comfort. Automated functions can significantly reduce distractions and help the driver stay alert. Even if the technology for autonomous driving is already here, there are many other aspects to consider as artificial intelligence takes over vehicle control and decision-making. When the world is ready, Volvo will be too.
Advanced driver assistance systems and, ultimately, autonomous driving require technologies of different kinds. Smart algorithms, reliable sensors, superfast data communication and fail-proof mechanical subsystems are just a few examples. Volvo continuously develops and deploys functions and features that will become part of future systems for autonomous driving.
Even if the technology for autonomous driving is already here, there are many other aspects to consider as artificial intelligence takes over vehicle control and decision-making. At Volvo we are at the forefront, conducting our own research and also working together with independent academies.
Already today there are several automated functions helping the driver to drive more safely and with fewer distractions. Systems for lane keeping and collision warning are fundamental features. These systems will be further developed and become more capable but they still require interaction with, and actions by, a driver.
Today’s sensor technology allows for controlled and precise driverless progress. With connected functions, driverless vehicles can also interact with each other according to pre-defined algorithms. In confined areas such as depots or charging stations all the relevant parameters are known, and the buses can move around safely without human intervention.
For autonomous driving, the step from confined areas to everyday city traffic is huge and getting there will require careful implementation. One likely initial application is Bus Rapid Transit, where the buses have dedicated lanes free from other road users. With fewer parameters for the automated systems to handle, BRT will be an important real-life validation arena for autonomous driving.
The technology required for autonomous driving in controlled environments already exists. Through field trials and research we continuously develop and refine this type of functionality which are the cornerstones of future driverless applications. Below are a few examples; a driver support system study, a bus depot in Sweden and a campus area in Singapore.