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 BLOG >> August 2018

Roadmap for Driverless Cars [Future
Posted on August 16, 2018 @ 07:38:00 AM by Paul Meagher

One aspect of driving that I do not like is switching between low beam and high beam light. As a vehicle approaches I can't remember what state my beams were in and the indicator is obscured by the top of my steering wheel. I have to quickly duck my head down to see what the indicator says and then adjust the light beam intensity or not. I don't like taking my eyes off the road when vehicles are close so this is a significant safety issue as well.

Companies developing driverless cars must have figured this out by now? I would love to have a vehicle where I could activate automatic control of light beam intensity. I suspect that this is already out there somewhere now but I don't research new vehicle technology enough to know. I did some googling and came across a recent research paper Intelligent Automatic High Beam Light Controller (2018) that proposes a simple, low cost solution:

In order to make the driving at night time a safe experience and more friendly to the other drivers on the road an automatic high beam light controller is needed. This paper presents, a simple, low cost and easy to install, design for an intelligent automatic on/off high beam light controller. The proposed design was implemented using the required hardware and components. The experimental results show that the controller provides the driver with the required automatic control; by turning on and off the high beam light when facing other drivers. Moreover, the system will turn off the high beam light if there is enough lighting on the surrounding environment such as when driving inside cities.

This automatic high beam light controller example illustrates the point that I would like to make about the future of driverless cars. Instead of expecting driverless cars to arrive on the scene some year in the future in all the new car models, I would suggest that the companies developing driverless car technology are going to need to figure out how to modularize the different technologies involved (such as automatic high beam light control) and to gradually incorporate these modules into new car models. In other words, there will be a gradual transition to driverless cars with new car models offering one or more modules that assume control of some aspect of driving such as high beam control.

Another feature might be to automatically stay between the median line and side of the road. It might not be available under low light conditions unless you have the high beam control module.

We often take for granted all the abilities that are required in performing a complex act like driving. The car industry might eventually agree upon what the list of component abilities are and strive to make their component modules interchangable or reusable across car platforms.

In my opinion, what is interesting about companies developing driverless car technology may not be so much the end game - the fully automated driveless car. Rather, it is the component technologies they are developing and how those component technologies will be gradually released in new car models. I would argue that the roadmap of driverless car technology is to develop modules that automate different aspects of driving, not to fully automate driving in some high tech car of the future.

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