Autonomous driving is becoming one of the main directions of development in automotive industry. Self-governing cars, buses and trucks are already being actively tested in Europe, US and Asia.
Buses on request – What is there to do with unprofitable routes of public transport in underpopulated suburbs? Starting from the summer of 2017, one of the villages near the German city of Mannheim will be supplied with an electric self-guided bus EZ10 made by French company Ligier, which has 6 seats and 6 standing places. The bus will operate on request. In January, trial trips around the city center were attended by over 900 people.
Unprecedented opportunity for people with disabilities – there is no steering wheel in this vehicle, but this blind old man really wanted to feel himself like a real driver. According to the corporation Google, in 3-4 years similar unmanned machines may go to the market. After seven years of successful experiments in the field of autonomous driving, Google has set up a company named Waymo and presented it in December, 2016 in San Francisco.
Taxis instead of private vehicles – The desire of the authorities to reduce the use of private vehicles in cities contributed to beginning of the world’s first experiment with unmanned taxis began in August, 2016 in Singapore. Those vehicles travelled only in the university area and were under supervision of a driver and software developer from the US company Nutonomy, just in case. But the trip was free.
Maximum availability of taxis – In September, 2016 the company Uber began experimenting with self-administered cars in the US city of Pittsburgh. It was established under the eponymous mobile application, which was receiving payments and requests for taxis or private drivers. The other place for large-scale testing of unmanned taxis was San Francisco. During experimentation every car had the taxi driver inside for the purpose of safety.
Underground Miners Assistant – In northern Sweden in October, 2016 the world’s first underground self-governing truck’s test began. Equipped with a laser sensor, serial Volvo FMX was “learning” new ways of transportation of mined ore in mines of Kristineberg at depth of 1,300 meters. Designed to make the mining works more effective and safe, four unmanned trucks will be tested until the end of 2017.
Less accidents due to autopilot – Daimler, the world’s largest truck manufacturer, started testing unmanned tractors back in 2015 on the desert routes of the state of Nevada in US and in the thick traffic of German autobahn near Stuttgart. The developers claim that the use of the autopilot significantly reduces the risk of traffic accidents and facilitates the work of truckers. But in the long run that will cause that profession to fade away.
Improving software – An unmanned bus tested in August, 2016 in the Swiss canton Wallis accurately recognized pedestrians and appropriately braked. Still, an open back door of a parked commercial vehicle riding in late September was left unnoticed by the automated bus. After this accident the experiment was halted for software revision.
Reliability, design, comfort – In January, 2017 during the world’s largest consumer electronics show CES held in Las Vegas, United States, the Japanese company Toyota introduced a prototype of a car which, thanks to its artificial intelligence, can not only move independently, communicate with other road users, but also take habits and preferences of other car owners into account.