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Bosch and Foreca Collaborate to Bring Predictive Road Services to Driverless Cars

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【Summary】In application, forecasts issued by Foreca will advise self-driving cars about shifting environmental conditions on the road.

Michael Cheng    Aug 08, 2018 9:00 AM PT
Bosch and Foreca Collaborate to Bring Predictive Road Services to Driverless Cars
author: Michael Cheng   

Environmental factors outside of the control of autonomous vehicles can cause unforeseen dangers to arise. To address such hazards, Bosch and Foreca have teamed up on an important program that aims to make local road conditions easier to predict.

Interestingly, Finland-based Foreca specializes in weather forecasts and is currently contracted by Microsoft to provide weather-related content for its websites. The company has also worked with BMW and Daimler on automotive projects involving weather predictions for cars.

Predicting Road Hazards

The weather service will be used by the Germany-based Tier 1 supplier to boost safety in autonomous vehicles. The feature is expected to come with a predictive services package, which will be offered by Bosch in the near future. In application, forecasts issued by Foreca will advise self-driving cars about shifting environmental conditions on the road. Upon sensing changes, the car should adapt accordingly.

For example, when weather conditions call for rain, the vehicle's system may decrease its traveling speed to avoid slippage on roads. This type of service requires reliable (connected) infrastructure, as data must be updated constantly.

"Wet roads, snow, ice – with our predictive road-condition services, we alert to hazards before critical situations can develop. We are helped here by the weather data provided by our partner Foreca. This means an automated vehicle will know exactly where it can drive autonomously, and how," said, Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, Bosch management board member.

For passengers, the predictive service may decrease reliance on human intervention during critical driving maneuvers. Moreover, self-driving platforms would have more time to ‘react' to their environment, as weather predictions typically take some time to proliferate.

Gathering Real-time Data

Bosch will release the cutting-edge service in multiple phases. This strategy aligns with the company's plans to launch the feature baked into its predictive services package by 2020. The main reason the platform needs data from Foreca is due to availability of connected vehicles on public roads. The automotive supplier predicts the requirement of over 20 million connected cars for comprehensive coverage of roughly 50,000 miles of roadways in Europe.

In order to provide reliable, real-time data about road conditions without Foreca, Bosch would have to pool data from connected vehicles. In the partnership, Foreca will fill this gap of missing information, as there simply aren't enough connected cars on the road today to provide a continuous flow of environmental data. All of the information gathered by the group will be stored in the Tier 1 supplier's cloud-based network.

In connected cars, the duo is interested in gathering the following types of information: activation of windshield wipers, road friction, activation of safety protocols (anti-skid systems, airbags, dashboard alerts and etc) temperature and more. This data will be combined with localized weather forecasts to generate timely and safe driving recommendations.

"Combining the expertise of Foreca and Bosch will lead to a new era of road-condition forecasting. Unlike weather forecasts in the media, the Bosch road-condition services take multiple possible forecast scenarios into consideration," said Petri Marjava, Foreca's sales director, in a statement.

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