A few days ago, the news came that Mercedes received the first approval for third-level autonomous driving. Let's find out together what it is and the implications.
All of us are used to having cars with level 2 assistive driving devices. The news came a few days ago, and it concerns the increase of autonomous driving capacity to a higher level. We are in fact ready to introduce third level autonomous driving.
The fundamental difference that insists on this level is the driver's exemption from the need to always have control of the vehicle, provided he is obviously ready to intervene in case of need.
The driver, therefore, does not always have to keep his hands on the wheel, as is the case now. He will be called to intervene immediately, as soon as it is necessary to do so.
Currently, according to the international regulation UN-ECE R-157, it will be possible to circulate with third-level autonomous driving only on separate carriageways, without pedestrians and cyclists, and without exceeding 60 km per hour. As we can see, therefore, there is a clear and decisive choice to set the stakes, at least in the first phase of introduction, of this new form of autonomous driving. Using the maps of the navigators, the system will then be unlocked, in the sections characterized by these characteristics.
July 14 will be the date of entry into force of the amendment to the Vienna Convention, which allows for the regulation of traffic according to these parameters. For the entry into force in Italy, we always talk about the summer period, as our country adheres to the Vienna Convention and is about to modify the Highway Code, in particular article 46.
The question clearly arises whether our country is ready for this level of autonomous driving. If we take a tour of the dealerships, there are very few cars that are currently able to have third-level autonomous driving.
In fact, almost all the cars are still at second level assisted driving levels. To make just a few very quick quotes, we are talking about keeping the car inside the lane, as well as the centrality of the car within the lane and emergency braking. All these adaptive systems also allow the vehicle to maintain a high ability to avoid collisions or avoid other unpleasant situations.
Our beautiful country is crossed by thousands of kilometers of road, which obviously are not all perfect. In fact, we cannot compare a newly built motorway with an old suburban road. The driving aid systems, in fact, use a whole series of cameras and sensors that monitor the space in front of the car, in order to recognize certain unequivocally recognizable traits.
Therefore, if the road is rough and does not have road signs, it is difficult for the assisted driving systems to be able to intervene promptly. Here, then, as the question of whether our beautiful country is capable of handling a third-level driving aid situation, the answer is most likely Ni.
If on the one hand, in fact, our country is preparing on a legislative level for a revolution in terms of autonomous driving, on the other, much still needs to be done. Car manufacturers are obviously making considerable progress in this area, and are proving to be the most attentive to the development of assisted driving systems.
We said before, that currently there are not very many cars that have this level of safety, but it is also true that the car manufacturers have the intention and convenience of prestige and economic, in developing these levels of safety.
To counterbalance this industrial readiness, we have our roads, which, as we said before, are still very bumpy and full of holes. The phenomenon of holes is quite simple, but not simplistic to analyze.
The perfect functioning of the assisted driving systems depends on the different type of road. We also remind you that, depending on the car manufacturer, the driving aid systems vary in terms of quality. A premium brand certainly has a greater ability to develop better performing adaptive driving systems, compared to a brand with less research and development capabilities. This particular slice of the budget of an automotive company is especially focal in the field of information technology.
A very simple example is keeping the car inside the carriageway, if we are inside a motorway curve. In some cases the car is unable to automatically remain in the center of the roadway, and therefore maintain a correct flow of traffic.
All this is due, both to the reaction speed of the adas, but also to the quality of the functioning of the adaptive systems. Autonomous driving is basically based on reading the lidar sensors, which are located on the windshield and grille, as well as on the bumpers.
Calibrating these sensors is the key and calibration is a matter of millimeters. Their reading power is hundreds of meters, and in some cases even kilometers. A carriageway is characterized by a width of a few meters, and therefore a minimum millimeter variation in the reading factor of the leaders, is emblematic of how the car can be inside the carriageway or outside the carriageway.
Put more clearly, the automotive company's ability to perfectly calibrate the lidar allows the car to stay on the road, or go off the road, possibly resulting in injuries or deaths.
When we talk about death, we mean both people in the car, but also people who are close to the car, such as pedestrians and bicycles.
Given the complexity of the subject… we will continue to talk about third level autonomous driving in the next article. In the meantime, sign up for YouDriver to discover the workshops closest to you that specialize in assisting driving aid devices.
credit photo FREEPIK