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Cars with autopilot – smoother, safer and infinitely more relaxing

7 November 2022

According to the automotive media, we are inevitably approaching the era of autonomous cars – capable of driving on their own. At the same time, what’s surprising, is that there’s less and less news about the novelty we’re soon to be enjoying, which is the cars with autopilot able to take over the driver’s most boring tasks behind the wheel. In a sense, this solution is going to make the shift from the driving controlled by the driver to the autonomous driving much smoothly, and less chaotic. Anyway, we – the drivers – are going to face a true revolution.

 

How do cars with autopilot work?

Undoubtedly, the future of the automotive industry is connected with the constant development of the vehicle technology, whose task is and will be saving the fuel, taking care of the driving smoothness, and, most importantly, about the safety of the passengers of a particular vehicle and other traffic users – by reducing the number of accidents. However, let’s remember that in the case of the anti-lock braking system – ABS, or the traction control system – as well as e.g. the navigation, the human factor is still crucial, and it’s the driver who makes the decision and who’s responsible. An analogous situation is when the autonomous vehicle start to be considered. Still, for a long period of time – partly due to the legislative restrictions – they are going to be one of the available forms of assistance to the driver – but they won’t be able to legally take over the driver’s tasks in every aspect of driving.

It’s only one of the tasks of the cars with autopilot to enable the driver to enjoy e.g. using a smartphone or a tablet while driving without risking the safety – completely legally. It’s without a doubt a dream of every busy person, who stuck in a traffic jam would like to answer business e-mails or browse materials for an office meeting which they had run out of time to prepare for. Cars with autopilot are also going to be more environment-friendly, as they facilitate driving, and at the same time ultimately reduce the fuel consumption, and often shorten the driving time, depending on the current weather and road conditions, of course.

 

Pay attention

For years, not only Elon Musk and his innovative Tesla have been developing the elements responsible for the autonomous driving. Other manufacturers within the framework of current regulations have been focusing on improving the smoothness of driving and the safety with the use of the cars with autopilot – for them, the autonomous cars are the means to achieve a good cause, not a private achievement.

 

Many producers when designing their own autopilot, base their projects on more and more perfect active cruise controls. A solution which a few years ago was only reserved for the most expensive models of the premium segment, has become just one of the interesting options in even the compact cars. Depending on the brand and the model, the active cruise control allows maintaining a fixed distance from the car in front, following it at a fixed speed, and even, in many cases, driving in traffic – is the stopover doesn’t last longer than let’s say 30 seconds, the car starts moving again on its own – after exceeding this time, the driver has take over the control over driving. There already some systems available such as the lane departure warning system, whose task is to maintain the car within a particular lane. Nowadays, there are widely available systems which use a range of sensors monitoring the speed, steering angle, the engine speed, cameras which read traffic signs or the road in front of the car and the environment around it. Additionally, manufacturers are trying to create a system which on the basis of data from precise navigation adjusts the speed to the approaching obstacles on the road. The combination of all these variables allows creating systems capable of autonomous driving, which, as it is in e.g. Mercedes, require the driver’s alertness over the car’s work – the driver from time to time has to touch the steering wheel in order for the autopilot to continue operating.

Even when the autopilot partially takes over the control over driving on a highway, in a longer perspective it allows avoiding the risk connected with the driver losing focus which occurs due to the monotony of driving. Additionally, a system which does not get tired – whose effectiveness does not dwindle – is able to continuously optimally adjust the speed and the current brake, which will result in lower fuel consumption.

 

How do cars with autopilot assist the driver?

There are many ways in which cars with autopilot can assist the driver behind the wheel, both in the city and on a highway, to ensure smooth, safe, relaxing, as well as shortest travel to the destination. The most important types of assistance systems can help you with:

  • lane change – by means of sensors and cameras registering lanes and horizontal markings on the road, the car monitors the situation around it and assists the driver when changing the lane by conducting the entire maneuver of changing the lane. It assists the driver from the blind spot checking to effective acceleration and smooth steering movements.
  • driving in narrow spaces – every driver has wondered at least a few time in their life if they could safely pass through a narrow space left by incorrectly parked cars, or whether they could smoothly and without damaging anything park in a tight parking spot in an underground parking lot. With the system providing autonomous driving, it won’t a problem anymore. Autopilot, with the use of a range of sensors and cameras, can check whether the way is accessible at all, and additionally, if needed, it can correct the car trajectory by a slight movement of the steering wheel.
  • speed optimisation – all drivers waste a lot of time and fuel on their hasty decisions. Driving too slow results in waiting at the red traffic light, or in the traffic, and driving too fast bring an analogical result. In any case, we waste the fuel recklessly, making our journey less effective and smooth. Constant braking and accelerating does not improve the economy of driving. With the use of autopilot, the speed of the driving can be adjusted to the road conditions, the time of traffic lights change – smoother driving means lesser fuel consumption.
  • using brakes – it’s another task which the modern technology can already help you with, doing the crucial activities for you on time. If, at the right time, you don’t react after noticing an obstacle on the road, the car itself initiates emergency braking with the full power of the system. An analogical system protecting the car from frequent collisions in the city traffic is popularised by Volvo.
  • giving way to the privileged vehicles – localising a privileged vehicles which you can hear from a far distance often takes too much time, in the effect of which drivers give way for an ambulance too late for it to pass fast. Here comes autopilot which can do it much faster. The system detects an approaching privileged vehicle and, in case the driver doesn’t react, or within the framework of its services, it will give way on its own by changing the lane or safely pulling over.
  • cooperation with the road infrastructure and other vehicles – solutions known as V2V (Vehicle To Vehicle) and V2I (Vehicle To Infrastructure). They allow sharing information between the roadside infrastructure (such as the highway traffic management system) and your vehicle, and also between other vehicles equipped with the autonomous technology. Thanks to the fact that your car gets informed about particular difficulties, such as heavy traffic, an accident or other dangers, it’s able to suggest or e.g. change the route to optimise the travel time.
  • joining the traffic, starting when the traffic lights go green – the vast majority of drivers gets irritated with slow actions of other traffic users, who react with a delay to the traffic light going green or starting behind the car in front of them. In effect, a few drivers is enough to block many streets. In the future, when all cars will be equipped with autopilot, such situations won’t happen again. A line of cars will start immediately simultaneously without undue delay.
  • parking – for example the BMW in the flagship series 7 offers a system which allows remote starting the car, leaving the parking spot or safely entering a tight garage. In the future, a car with autopilot will be able to fully autonomously enter an underground parking lot, find a free parking spot and park perfectly, while the owner can get out of the car at any spot and go shopping. After finishing doing all the errands, the driver will be able to summon the car via a car application to a desired location.

 

Who was the first to introduce a car with autopilot?

All car manufacturers, including Tesla, Mercedes, Volvo, Volkswagen, BMW and the Stelantis group, have been working for a longer time already to introduce cars with autopilot. As it’s not difficult to guess, the most spectacular achievements are presented by the cars of the American brand Tesla, which in certain states can be legally driven remotely, with the driver sitting behind the wheel simply as a passenger. After taking a set behind the wheel, all you have to do is to start the autopilot, enter the destination address in the navigation and observe the changing landscape. The system works well on crowded American roads, downhills, city traffic, and parking. Of course, media keep informing us about situations in which a system failure resulted in a collision or a accident. A huge advantage of tesla is remote system update downloading, which makes even the older models equal with the new ones.

 

 

The above mentioned Mercedes, of e.g. class E and S, offers for a fee the developed Intelligenr Drive system, which is able e.g. to maintain the car in the desired lane, travel on its own or follow the vehicle in front of it at a fixed speed, overtake after the driver activates the turn signal, or stop in a traffic and start the car again if half a minute doesn’t pass. The system recognises also various speed restrictions, and follows them. Importantly, the driver regularly – as a means of control, has to touch the steering wheel. The lack of contact results in a voice warning, or eventually in a safe stopping the car.

Audi, however, focuses on the Traffic Jam Pilot system, whose task is to relieve the driven from the burden of driving the car on highway traffic jams, when the car moves laboriously. The Audi system can take over the control under 60 km/h when driving in the traffic, maintaining safe distances between other vehicles. An autonomous driving system by BMW offers a lot more. In its case, both when it comes to city traffic and highways (the system works under 210 km/h), the Bavarian brand car approaches the destination on the desired lane maintaining safe distances between other vehicles.

A vast majority of countries, including the EU countries, does not allow using cars with autopilot. It’s only possible to use driver assistance systems, but not the ones which replace the driver. So, it’s now wonder that Tesla is still the leader in terms of the autonomous driving – whose car can be summoned from a parking lot. Google has also been developing and testing its own solutions.

 

It is good to know

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Cars with autopilot – smoother, safer and infinitely more relaxing
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Cars with autopilot – smoother, safer and infinitely more relaxing
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Less and less is heard about the novelty we will soon be able to enjoy, i.e. cars with autopilot. How do cars with autopilot?
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autoDNA
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