As the race to perfecting advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving intensifies, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) should look forward to initiating multi-weather testing for accelerated development.
Globally, there has been a spike in the amount of research and trials performed on automated vehicles, connected cars, and navigation systems in the last few years. Numerous intelligence algorithms are being experimented with to create ideal paths for automated navigation systems and to deliver the necessary acumen to those systems dependent on the application. Most major automotive OEMs across the world are progressively working on the incorporation of active safety and automated vehicle features that will enable semi-to-high automation in their future vehicle line-ups, with a view to promote safety and enhance driver comfort. However, without proper testing and validation, the real-world application of technology will be dangerous and, hence, limited to laboratories. To understand the pros and the cons of each technology, continuous testing and validation must be carried out.
Several countries in Europe and Asia have been displaying positive intent in terms of automated vehicle technologies by conducting experiments and trials. However, no other country in the world, besides the United States, has the appropriate legislations in place for such testing. At present, only 7 out of 50 states in the United States have an order executed supporting experiments involving automated vehicles. Many other states are expected to follow suit in the near future. This is a major hurdle for OEMs that aim to perform the expansive testing of their automated vehicle technology, spanning several parts of the world for more accurate situational data gathering and validation. This major drawback means that the experiments can only be carried out within closed spaces approved by the government or in proving ground types of private facilities.
The research and the testing of these automated and active safety technologies, along with navigation schemes and algorithms, need an efficient test bed for objective performance analysis. Often, these algorithms require sensor input from the system, such as the ADAS, and speed and steering sensors to apply feedback control action. An efficient test bed displays the status of all the ADAS sensors in the car as well as the records of all previous sensor values. This job involves the development of a test bed that will support research in terms of the automated navigation schemes and algorithms involved in these applications. Several countries (primarily in North America, followed by Europe and Asia) have been identified as being able to facilitate testing and validation in different conditions. While the testing can be conducted in secure public roads, certain facilities are simulated real-world environments and comprise highways, rural roads, roundabouts, intersections, and other structures representing an urban environment, strapped with the latest technology that helps capture and process data from vehicle sensors. Human-like robots are also used to understand how automated cars react to other road users, such as pedestrians. According to the current law in the United States, testing mandates a certified driver to be mandatorily present to take control in case of any untoward incident.
For the optimum utilization of such a simulated facility, the infrastructure and testing capacity within a test bed can be customized according to client requirements. Automotive OEMs and disruptors partner with these test beds, as well as with several technology providers, legal advisors, and insurance providers to understand and accelerate their efforts in terms of successfully introducing automated vehicle technologies. At present, only Ford is understood to have initiated the multi-weather testing of its automated Fusion research cars. This means that while going forward, as favorable legislation relating to automated vehicle testing is passed in several parts of the world, the late majority and laggards may lose out on vital knowledge in terms of developmental capabilities and, subsequently, delay market introduction.