One of the auto industry’s largest suppliers is making improvements to its prototype self-driving car.
In the eight months since Delphi Automotive’s technology guided an Audi SQ5 from San Francisco to New York with only minutes of human driving, the supplier will show off its enhancements on the same autonomous crossover vehicle at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show.
“We imagine a world with zero traffic accidents,” said Jeff Owens, Delphi’s chief technology officer. “To get there, we will need a convergence of active safety, sensor fusion, connectivity and advanced software.”
Much of the 3,400-mile self-driving trip was on interstate highways where traffic was predictable and not very congested. But the upgraded features will make it more adept in urban settings.
Among the improvements are:
•Vehicle-to-vehicle communication. The SQ5 can better “see” surrounding traffic and adapt to unexpected driver behavior. For example, it can slow or stop if a vehicle in the next lane tries to cut in front of it.
•Vehicle-to-pedestrian interaction: Imagine a distracted pedestrian texting and wandering through a crosswalk after the light has changed. Delphi sensors will detect the pedestrian and automatically brake.
•Vehicle-to-traffic light communication: In demonstration drives around Las Vegas, the car will anticipate light changes before they happen and respond accordingly.
•Better detection of blind spots: Improved software and sensors will see other vehicles approaching at 5-point or other unusual intersections otherwise invisible to a human driver.
•Ride-sharing notification: Customers who need a ride can use a smartphone app that shows them the location of an Uber or Lyft car.
Delphi also developed the “Super Cruise” vehicle-to-vehicle system that will debut next year on the 2017 Cadillac CT6.
Super Cruise will allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel with full confidence the vehicle will proceed safely.
In October, Tesla Motors offered a $3,000 software upgrade, called Autopilot to owners of its Model S sedan. Mercedes-Benz also offers something called Distronic Plus with Steering Assist.
While the technology will be offered in more luxury cars, it will take many years before enough vehicles are comparably equipped to maximize the safety impact.
But at CES in Las Vegas, Delphi will show a vehicle-to-vehicle system for the aftermarket so older vehicles will have the ability to communicate with the more advanced technology in the upscale models.
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