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article imageVW draws nearer to driverless cars

By Joe Duarte     Feb 2, 2014 in Technology
Wolfsburg - Volkswagen continues to be the driving force toward automated driving, with the launch the AdaptIVe (Automated Driving Applications & Technologies for Intelligent Vehicles) research project on safe and efficient driverless motoring.
Volkswagen first started exploring the idea of automated driving in 2011 with its Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP) in-car system, as part of the HAVEit (Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport) R&D project that brought together 17 partners from the European automotive sector and scientific community.
Led by Volkswagen, the AdaptIVE consortium is made up of 29 partners, including BMW, Bosch, Continental, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz; Nissan-Renault, Volvo and universities from England, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
The idea of automated driving actually manifested itself in 1920 in New York, with a radio-controlled car, and has developed over the decades to include such ideas as roadways fitted with guide-wires and even an overhead electric cable system to keep vehicles in line while allowing them to save fuel.
Automated driving is not as ludicrous as it may seem. The theory behind it is that some tasks are better handled by modern vehicle electronics than humans. And with current acceleration, braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist technologies, a vehicle will speed up and/or slow down to keep a safe distance to the vehicle in front (and in some cases even come to a complete stop) and steer itself back to keep within the confines of a lane.
By combining all the modern technologies, it’s not far-fetched to imagine a highway system where cars will efficiently follow each other at a safe distance for kilometers on end, with the driver simply available to exit the stream at the desired off-ramp. There has even been some testing into lower-speed driving that also required tighter, low speed turns.
According to a Volkswagen statement: automated vehicles will contribute towards enhanced traffic safety by assisting drivers and minimizing human errors. They are also expected to make traffic flow more efficiently, ensuring optimal driving conditions with minimal speed variations in the traffic flow.
Future technologies already being explored will allow vehicles and pedestrians to electronically connect with each other to further improve safety.
“This complex field of research will not only utilize onboard sensors, but also cooperative elements such as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. Therefore, I am glad that most European automotive companies are cooperating in this pre-competitive field to create new solutions for automated driving,” says Professor Jürgen Leohold, Executive Director of Volkswagen Group Research.
The AdaptIVE consortium will develop and test the new technologies to further improve partially and fully automated driving on highways and in cityscapes. The primary focus will be on dynamically adapting the automated system among the different motoring scenarios, as well as exploring the legal and product liability implications if the system should not work as intended.
Funded by the European Commission to the tune of 25 million Euros, the project is scheduled to run for three and a half years.
More about Volkswagen, automated driving, AdaptIVE
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