Sambit Sengupta, Associate Director – SPM & FAE, Avnet India
India is a country with vast possibilities of leveraging technology for the greater common good. One of the many ways where advanced technology adoption can help is in reducing road accident fatalities. According to a recent report by the World Bank, India accounts for 11 percent of the global death in road accidents, the highest in the world. However, stakeholders across levels are skeptical to adopt autonomous vehicle technology, mainly over concerns of potential job loss which will impact the livelihood of drivers. Another reason is because of the improvements required in road infrastructure to implement the technology.
On the other hand, we see some segments in India where the gradual application of autonomous vehicle technology creates not only safety and security for users but also help in raising productivity. Farm equipment makers and reputable tractor manufacturers are coming up with level 2 autonomous tractors equipped with GPS for geofencing and auto-steer facility. Some advanced start-ups are creating trucks with autonomous technology for operation on Indian highways. These trucks will not eliminate the need for truck drivers, but instead, reduce fatigue and disaster avoidance.
Besides, mankind’s quest for innovative ways to travel has never stopped. Automated driving is aimed to turn drivers into passengers – letting them become supervisors, freeing them from tedious driving operations and allowing them to do more valuable things as well as giving intelligent inputs to avoid road accidents. Autonomous vehicle technology will also improve the productivity of our large number of farm equipment users.
Three major barriers to implementation
While Tesla has previously stated that its autopilot system will receive a major upgrade and is expected to reach the level 5 within the year, there are still many issues to be resolved even when it comes to the mass production of level 3 automated vehicles. Not to mention the lack of infrastructure for connected vehicles, and the associated laws and regulations necessary to get automated vehicles on the road. Implementing level 2 autonomy in tractors with more smart features will face less of these barriers.
Here are three major barriers to the implementation of automated driving.
First, the development of technology is difficult and excessively expensive.
Key components for high-level automated vehicles, including AI chips, integrated circuits and LiDARs, are still in the preliminary stages of development. These chips are yet to be tested in the market, and their actual effectiveness is hard to assess. Automotive grade LiDARs are now facing significant challenges. The size, cost and reliability of front-mounted LiDARs cannot yet fully meet the requirements for automobile installation. And it is still a long way to go from mass production. Also, the level of functional security must be increased to ensure safety, and the upgrading of everything, from hardware to software, is inevitably cost-prohibitive.
Secondly, it takes time to improve the infrastructure for connected vehicles. The industrialization of automated driving requires the interconnection of vehicles, roads, clouds, networks, and maps to develop in tandem. Although we have seen many innovative explorations of vehicle-road collaboration (V2X), due to the difficulty of cross industry coordination across transportation, communications, and automotive, we still need to overcome technical barriers to accelerate the implementation of automated driving. It is by no means an overnight effort to build a 5G-V2X network, create big data platforms, integrate cloud platforms, and promote the information and intelligent transformation of road infrastructure.
Lastly, the absence of relevant laws and regulations. To have automated cars on the road will create many conflicts with current laws and regulations. There is hardly any clear legal definition in the Motor Vehicles Act, National Highways Act, and so on that actually covers the automated driving aspect. For example, customers will have many concerns when purchasing an automated vehicle due to the lack of relevant traffic accident liability legislation, which will affect the marketability of high-level automated vehicles. Specifically in India, traffic infrastructure and directions are not very uniform unless it is in highways.
ADAS, an essential step in the evolution of automated driving
Although there is a long way to go from the maturity of the technology to the commercial and regulation environment, the industry’s goal to achieve automated driving is clear and firm. Auto companies globally are pushing hard to develop automated driving products. In order to realize fully automated driving without human intervention, three conditions must be met – the vehicle must be fully aware of the surrounding environment, be able to respond accordingly when the environment changes, and the security of the vehicle and data must be ensured. This can be made possible by the continuous evolution of the Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) technology.
Currently, the main features of ADAS include providing information related to the vehicle’s current operating status and changes in the exterior environment to the driver. Data is analyzed simultaneously and advanced warnings are issued when a potentially dangerous situation is detected, which will allow the driver to take early measures to prevent traffic accidents.
The global ADAS market is expected to reach $67 billion by 2025, according to a report by Research and Markets. As a leading global technology distributor and solutions provider, Avnet saw a huge opportunity in the automotive electronics market and introduced its own ADAS solutions. In addition to providing various smart control features such as blind-spot detection, 360-degree full panorama view, emergency braking, automatic parking assistance and parking, Avnet’s ADAS solution also offers 3D HD surround view images for daytime and nighttime driving, as well as 2D HD surround-view images/road sign image recognition, lane-departure warnings /collision warnings to effectively help prevent traffic accidents. Moreover, Avnet’s ADAS solution features a Driver Monitoring System (DMS) that can accurately identify the driver’s mental state and behavior. When the driver appears to be yawning or drowsy, the system automatically activates the autopilot system to take over the vehicle in time to ensure driving safety. It can even sense the driver’s emotions and play their favorite music to soothe their mood. In the future, the vehicle will no longer be a cold machine, but a thoughtful and warm companion that can better respond to human needs.