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article imageTwo autonomous vehicles are better than one

By Tim Sandle     Oct 19, 2017 in Technology
Two autonomous vehicles connected together and traveling along the same route are safer when compared with one lone vehicle, according to a new study. This is due to wider field of view and extended situational awareness.
The finding about two vehicles connected with each other comes from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in France. Scientists, seeking to improve reliability and fault tolerance of intelligent vehicle systems, have shown that combining the data a number of improvements arose. This included an extended field of view of a car that is behind another car. Understanding this has allowed the researchers to devise a new type of flexible software framework to allow networked intelligent vehicles to interact.
Central to autonomous vehicles are Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors, together with sophisticated navigation, camera and mapping systems. Despite advances in technology there remain concerns about safety. Ways to enhance safety is part of the recent study.
Autonomy and cooperation
According to lead researcher Dr. Alcherio Martinoli there are two aspects with self-driving vehicles that are central for success - the level of autonomy and the level of cooperation. The researcher has spent several years on the cooperation factor.
This led to the development of cooperative perception algorithms. These advances in machine intelligence aim to extend an autonomous vehicle's situational awareness. This occurs by fusing data from onboard sensors together with data provided by cooperative vehicles nearby.
As an example, consider a common driving scenario when one car overtakes another car on a two-lane highway. This can be made safer through connected software by interlinking data from the car that it overtaking and the car that is being overtaken. This includes a risk assessment of factors shaping the probability that an oncoming car in the opposite lane as well as various ‘kinematic conditions’ like driving speeds, the distance needed to overtake and the distance in relation to the oncoming car.
Two is better than one
The safety enhancement arises with the intelligent vehicle combining its own LIDAR data with that of a second vehicle. This form of cooperative perception makes overtaking safer and more fluid.
The newly developed algorithm has been tested under various scenarios. First the software was tested in a simulator and then on the road. The connected cars were two Citroen C-Zero electric cars fitted with Mobileye cameras and a WiFi router.
The tests were complex and require further work to be undertaken. However, there was sufficient success to continue with the theory that two connected cars are safer than one. It is hoped that the technology, as it develops, will be taken up by car manufacturers.
More about autonomous cars, Vehicles, selfdriving cars, Transport
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