A team from Car Magazine spent a day with the PSA group to test prototypes of future driverless cars.
As is the case with traditional cars, the vehicles of the future will need to undergo tests. Going through the engines, brakes and suspension is no longer enough, however – tests are now also carried out on the sensors, software and other aid systems. British journalists from Car Magazine spent a day with PSA – the group which manufactures Peugeot, Citroën, DS and Vauxhall-Opel – to see the tests on prototypes of driverless cars first-hand.
The future driverless Peugeot 3008
The future driverless Peugeot looks like an ordinary 3008, which will be fitted with an extra screen inside, while the outside of the car will have a large number of sensors and cameras, most of them invisible to the naked eye.
It is equipped with an integrated map system which works even when the GPS signal is weak, and enables the car to know in which areas it can go into autonomous mode. The vehicle is capable of anticipating the end of these self-driving zones, and warns the driver using visual and audio signals that he or she will have to take full control again.
The autonomous 3008 parks itself, can detect if the driver is falling asleep and spot pedestrians and wild animals up to 100 metres away at night. Its "Highway Chauffeur" button enables the driver to put the car into autonomous mode on the highway, leaving Car Magazine highly enthusiastic about this new form of self-driving that is safer, more intuitive and more economical.
Tests carried out by non-professional drivers
PSA and its partners are currently testing 20 prototypes, beginning with laboratory simulations before moving onto road tests carried out by experts and also, since March 2017, finishing the process off by allowing non-professionals behind the wheel. 1,000 drivers from outside the company have thus tested autonomous prototypes on public roads before going on to give their impressions to PSA.
"Certain people think that self-driving and enjoying being behind the wheel are mutually exclusive, but it is actually an incredible opportunity – having the choice between driving and being driven, having access to new experiences on board, more time for other activities and appreciating a new living space!" said a delighted Carla Gohin, Head of Innovation and Research at PSA, who believes in PSA’s progressive approach, as opposed to companies such as Apple and Google who are aiming directly for stage 5 of maximum autonomous driving.
Autonomous driving widespread by 2020
PSA also announced that most of its models will be able to be fitted with these new systems by 2020. No fewer than 20 sensors – 12 ultra-sound sensors, six cameras, five radar scanners and a laser scanner – will give the vehicle a 360° view of its environment over a radius of 200 metres.
The sensors also provide an integrated HD map system, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity, and an algorithmic system to enable the car to analyse all of this information and thus make better decisions. Last but not least, the autonomous vehicle will provide a clear communication interface between driver and machine.
The group states than not all of its vehicles will have to be fitted with each aspect of this equipment, even though that would be technically possible. "Not every driver will necessarily want to pay for that," PSA explains. "It’s a financial question, not a technical one, even though the dimensions could end up posing a problem if the engine compartment is really small."
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United Kingdom, Jul 19, 2017
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