Delphi and Ottomatika, a company that manufactures products for driver assist and automation features for vehicles, just may have thought of everything, or at least are trying to, when it comes to future driving scenarios.
“We are using sophisticated software algorithms to anticipate every situation on the road and make a timely decision before the driver even becomes aware of the danger,” said Jeff Owens, Chief Technology Officer, Delphi.
When your day job is to design a car that thinks and makes decisions faster than a human, you have to take your work seriously. Owens knows what is at stake.
“We think the industry can save tens of thousands of lives a year just by implementing near-term active safety technology,” said Owens.
“We don’t need to be fully autonomous or even reach Levels 3 and 4 of automation to do that. We can do it with the technology that is already working its way into product plans for most car companies.”
Last year, Delphi and Ottomatika teamed up to complete the first cross country automated drive in an Audi SQ5. The journey covered 3,400 miles over nine days — from San Francisco to New York — and crossed 15 states and the District of Columbia.
The drive was fully automated – at least 99% of it was – and the engineering team collected enough data to fill a third of the Library of Congress. That’s three terabytes worth of information.
All along the way the car was thinking and reacting like a human, only better, faster.
“I became convinced this was going to work on a test drive in Las Vegas,” said Owens. “We had one guy walk right out in front of our car, totally unaware. He appeared to be intoxicated and fell flat on his face as he stepped into the street. Our car not only avoided where he was going to step, but where he actually fell.
“The benefit to society could be great if we can continue to make this software robust, reliable and ubiquitous. Imagine if every car on the road had that capability.”
Delphi and Ottomatika have perfected many urban driving scenarios, including:
- When a bicyclist is traveling in the middle of a lane and passing isn’t safe. The software will keep the car at a proper distance until it is safe to pass.
- Managing a 4-way stop. The system can read stop signs, traffic signals and crossing traffic in all four directions to determine which car has the right of way. The Delphi automated car properly waits its turn before going through the intersection.
- Approaching slow-moving traffic. The Delphi automated car will size up options on the left and right before making a safe passing manoeuvre; even detecting vehicles that are rapidly approaching from the rear in adjacent lanes.