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  Date: 28/10/2014

Automatic transmission to fully self driving in car: automation in progress

Self driving car technology looks to be a gradual growth of technology adoption rather then single time implementation of full-fledged self driving car. A fully capable safe driverless car is still a long way to go. It is difficult for driverless cars to drive in all types of conditions, some of the challenging conditions include driving during heavy rain and snow fall.

However, there are technologies to relieve the driver from the stress of the driving and also enhance safe driving. The artificial intelligence from the electronic systems will assist driver on safety and driving. Some of the driver assistance technologies what we're seeing now includes, lane warning systems, cruise control, and pedestrian detection. Also features such as automatic emergency braking (AEB), electronic mirrors/camera monitor systems (CMS) and autonomous evasive steering is fast developed.

What is really happening now is design of a robotic car. It's not a robot driving the car, but the car itself is a kind of robot.

The two important technologies driving this trend includes visual analysis/image processing and natural language processing. Though both are becoming realistic but the 100% accuracy in analysis is still a long way. The accuracy come from the quality of image sensors, which captures the scene as good as eye or even better than that. There is significant improvement, there are image sensors now available which can produce colour images of the scene, even in extreme poor light conditions such as night. So in some sense, image sensors are matching up to human eye. Also sometimes image sensors can outperform human eye by taking infrared light based thermal image.

But the human brain can differentiate between snowfall or some dangerous object fall, whereas the self driving car's electronics system still not able to process such kind of odd situations as effectively as humans. It's basically a process of learning.

If things goes well, Self driving cars are going to be popular within next 5 to 10 years. Market researcher Gartner has forecasted by 2030, autonomous-driving-capable vehicles to represent approximately 25% of the passenger vehicle population in use in mature markets.

Gartner says over the next six years, self-aware vehicles will emerge first that are increasingly also able to autonomously sense, interpret, decide, act and communicate with other automobiles, infrastructures, businesses, people and organizations. So the implementation of 'smart-ness" inside the car is under progress.

Gartner did conduct a survey where it finds two-fifths of U.S. and German vehicle owners are interested in purchasing a fully or partially autonomous vehicle the next time they shop for a vehicle.

When you look at the design of electronic systems and mechanical systems for such automated cars, they demand extremely reliable components. So the precision going to be even more important. The component which is supposed to safeguard the passengers can hurt or kill them, even if they're slightly faulty. To give an example of a safety system can become hazardous too, the airbags made by a company were recently recalled due to some cases, where they have caused injury to the passenger. There can be similar examples in automated vehicles, for even the smallest of the smallest mistake made by design engineering team.

Well all this means, automated driving cars going to be expensive and a luxury for long time. This is a good news for many of the high-end car makers.

If you look at emerging regions such as India, forget self driving cars, even gearless automatic transmission cars are not so common. It's only recently Maruti Suzuki has launched Celerio with automatic transmission and is selling well in the market. Maruti Suzuki is also bringing automatic transmission gearless Alto K10 in November 2014. Whereas in markets such as US and Europe, automatic transmission is popular quite sometime back. So the self driving cars in emerging markets going to be much more expensive and delayed in launching.
Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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