Volvo Calls for Universal Standard for Autonomous Car Communication
【Summary】With the new 360c autonomous concept, Volvo Cars is addressing one of the main challenges around the introduction of autonomous technology. Volvo is calling for a new, global standard in how autonomous vehicles communicate with all other road users.
No matter where in the world you drive, green means go and red means stop—in what has become a universally standard traffic law. Automaker Volvo is calling for a similar standard for how autonomous cars communicate with nearby vehicles and other road users.
With the automaker's new 360c autonomous concept, Volvo Cars is addressing one of the main challenges around the introduction of autonomous technology. Volvo is calling for a new, global standard in how autonomous vehicles communicate with all other road users.
Before autonomous cars become mainstream, there will likely be a transitionary period where driverless vehicles share the road with human operated vehicles and road users. One unanswered question is how will a driverless car communicate with the vehicles around it?
This is one of the problems Volvo plans to address with the 360c autonomous concept, since it will no longer be possible to make eye contact or gestures to other drivers to acknowledge their intent.
As part of the development of the 360c, Volvo Cars safety engineers decided to tackle this challenge of how to establish a safe means of communication between fully autonomous cars and other road users. Volvo's focus is to create a universal standard, enabling communications across all vehicle brands and models.
The system is comprised of external sounds, colors, visuals, movements, as well as combinations of these tools, to communicate the vehicle's intentions to other road users. This means it is at all times clear what the car will do next. For example, a color or visual cue from the vehicle might signal to pedestrians that it is safe to cross the street.
Volvo makes it clear that the technology focuses on making the car indicate its own intentions to other road users, not to influence another vehicle's driving decisions. 360c will never issue directions or instructions to other road users.
"We strongly believe this communication method should be a universal standard, so all road users can communicate easily with any autonomous car, regardless of which maker built it," said Malin Ekholm, vice president at the Volvo Cars Safety Center. "But it is also important that we do not instruct others what to do next, in order to avoid potential confusion. Our research shows this is the safest way for fully autonomous cars to communicate with other road users."
Seat Belts for Designed Sleeping Passengers?
Volvo has always been focused on safety. The 360c presents four potential uses of autonomous driving vehicles – as sleeping environment, mobile office, living room or entertainment space. A sleeping environment seems unusual at present, but when a vehicle is capable of fully-autonomous driving why not take a nap or watch a movie, since there will be no need, or means, to operate the vehicle.
The 360c as a sleeping environment
Inside the sleeping environment, Volvo Cars' safety engineers looked at how a different passenger positioning could influence safety. A special safety blanket included in the sleeping environment envisions a future restraining system that works just like the three-point safety belt, but is adjusted to people lying down while travelling.
The 360c just make traveling by car much more relaxing in the future.
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