Sensor Technology and Smart Cars

 

In the coming decades, new high-tech sensors will become ubiquitous—embedded in all devices and structures, constantly collecting data about things from earthquakes, to road wear, to marketing. This has already happened with automobiles, as one can clearly tell from Brose’s “kick to open” trunk and various other sensor-based amenities in modern cars; as well as Federal Mogul’s real-time sensor-based engine measurements and metrological and tribological advances.

Very soon, genuine autopilot will be available in vehicles—the rational extension of lane-keeping, auto-parking, emergency braking, GPS, and adaptive cruise control technologies. This new generation of automobiles will be replete with sensors and will run single operating systems guiding all their features.

These vehicles will thus have much better situational awareness than human drivers by combining GPS data, ultrasonic three-dimensional mapping of the immediate environment, camera feedback, gyroscopic, accelerometric and altimetric data with online information about road conditions, weather, construction, and accidents.

The BMW i3, which goes on sale later this year, will be able to self-drive in stop-start traffic by linking the adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping technology. Tesla Motors is in talks with Google about bringing their self-driving technology to market. Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automotive wants to create a “unifying experience — bringing together all the features and technologies into one common platform.”

Sources:

The Economist
<http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/04/economist-explains-how-self-driving-car-works-driverless>

Automotive News
<http://europe.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130509/ANE/305099998/microsoft-wants-to-become-key-player-in-auto-software#axzz2TBlMWCZq>

 

1 comment to Sensor Technology and Smart Cars

  • A challenge: how many sensors does a current high-end vehicle have, and where? There are scads of engine-related ones, but also plenty in the interior. You have to have sensors to disable occupant-side airbags, or to reduce their force if the occupant doesn’t weigh much. Temperature gauges. Seatbelt sensors. Active noise cancellation in some vehicles, so microphones and speakers. Position sensors for seats. Overload sensors (thermometers) for window motors. Rain sensors if you have automatic windshield wipers (located inside the window). Ambient and back-facing light sensors for autodimming mirrors. (Surely I’ve missed some?!)

    Even for the graphic above, you need a tire pressure sensor (w/ radio) in each tire, and wheel rotation sensors for ABS and traction control / electronic stability control. Accelerometers tied to that, and to the airbag system. Proximity sensors for keyless entry, and for a hands-free liftgate on an SUV.

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