Bosch is to introduce a system designed to increase road safety and relieve monotony for motorists stuck in traffic jams.
Due to go into series production next year, Bosch’s traffic jam assistant represents one in a series of phased steps that will eventually lead to fully autonomous automobiles.
A Bosch spokesperson told The Engineer via email that the traffic jam assistant will use Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) functionality in combination with lane keeping during stop-and-go traffic situations on highways at speeds between 0-30mph.
The driver would still have responsibility and control over the car but, with traffic jam assistant engaged, the car will automatically follow ongoing traffic within the lane.
Bosch’s rationale for automotive autonomy comes from accident research that reveals that motorists do not want to be in situations where they are not stimulated, or in motorway driving where they could possibly become overwhelmed.
‘It is for these exact reasons that the assistance systems can kick in when too many things are happening in parallel – whether easing monotonous driving or in critical situations these systems can intervene automatically when necessary,’ said Bosch.
Looking forward, Bosch believes that in the next few years the functional range will be extended to create fully autonomous cars. They said that with more powerful sensors and algorithms, the maximum speed automatically covered will increase, and prompted lane changing will be possible also.
Initially, the command to change lanes will be given by the driver but at a later stage the car will be able to decide fully autonomously.
This functionality needs sensor technology that surveys the traffic from behind the vehicle and Bosch said it favours the use of two mid-range sensors mounted at the rear of the car, plus a dynamic navigation system to keep drivers informed of traffic situations and local speed restrictions.
The final expansion stage will be a highway pilot that will guide the car automatically; the driver will enter the motorway, and from that point to the desired exit, the car will drive completely automatically.
‘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,’ said said Gerhard Steiger, president of the Bosch Chassis Systems Control division in a statement.
Bosch maintained that 90 per cent of all road traffic accidents are caused by human failure but conceded that there are no legal frameworks yet to regulate autonomous vehicles.
The company is confident, however, that automated driving will make traffic situations much safer, adding that automated vehicles can avoid hazardous/unsafe situations much better than motorists and will ‘reliably stick to the rules without getting tired, bored or emotionally affected.’