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Will drivers be in demand in the future?

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One driverless Tesla almost threw its passenger off a cliff , and the other Tesla was driving a drunk driver who fell asleep without paying attention to the policemen who tried to stop Tesla, chasing it for 13 km. Volvo XC60 with Pilot Assist technology misjudged the changed markings on the two-lane road during the test drive. When one white lane was replaced by two side lanes marking the boundaries of asphalt, the artificial intelligence decided that now it had the whole road at his disposal, and and repositioned itself in the middle of it.

How long do we have to wait for an autonomous control system, and will it guarantee absolute safety? If we're talking about the string transport, SkyWay worked it all out quite a long time ago. We talked about our achievements in automation in October 2018. You will get to know about the new achievements at the EcoFest 2019, which will take place at the EcoTechnoPark on 17 August.

During the event, specialists will demonstrate how unibuses move in intervals and in virtual couplings and perform routeing tasks. For example, how they develop a pre-set speed, change it on different sections of the route, and, depending on the actions of other vehicles on the route, stop for boarding and disembarking passengers. All unibuses will be able to communicate with each other and receive data about the state, position in space, speed, distance and so on, regardless of whether they are on the same or different lines. It is planned to demonstrate different operating modes of the control system, including the emergency mode, when one vehicle will be able to take the other, conditionally broken, in tow to deliver to the nearest service station.

Antificial intelligence monitors not only the vehicle parameters and the environment, but also the situation inside the cabin. To date, algorithms are being developed to recognize the behavior in the cabin, unnatural body position (for example, if the passenger is unwell), left objects, payment on FaceID.

During the year, the specialists of CJSC "String Technologies" have done a lot for the development of the global control system. It is this system that will ensure a high level of transportation safety by eliminating the human factor, and will also help to organize the passenger flow up to 50,000 people per hour at an interval of movement on the line every 2 seconds. So is the performance of the Moscow Metro, with which SkyWay, as an innovative form of non-surface transport can be also compared by other indicators.

Automated metro control

On the railways, and, particularly, in underground transport, only a few processes are automated so far. A simpler model is used here. Tunnels have virtually no intersection of transport routes, and routes are mostly isolated from each other.

Automated train control has three dimensions: safety, transport control and traffic monitoring. The trains move according to a schedule and control the opening and closing of the carriage doors themselves. The autonomous monitoring system monitors all routes and the environment and transmits the received information to the control centre. In addition, the system monitors the distance between trains and the compliance with the speed limits.

Obviously, automating the metro was the easiest thing to do because the infrastructure is initially isolated, and the same vehicles move in the tunnels. Perhaps, if the system is scaled up, it can be applied to other areas of railway transport. But then, there will be problems in monitoring and controlling the movement of international trains or because of the complexity of the environment. For example, during the arrival of suburban trains at various types of stations.

It is quite obvious that the Skyway transport with all the same advantages in terms of automation that the metro can boast, has additional advantages. In the underground transport, you have already faced bad smell, stuffiness, crowding, pickpockets and other «pleasures» of public transport.. SkyWay allows to travel at bird's-eye altitude, from where you can enjoy the surrounding scenery. One of the stages in the development of the SkyWay rail string network will be the introduction of personal transportation. Of course, this will require bringing the string roads to the houses in the same form as it is now implemented in road transport. In addition, you don't have to be an economist to understand that building SkyWay is much cheaper than building subway tunnels.

World atopilot market

There is a standard classification system that defines five levels of automation:

Level 0 – No automation

The driver has full control of the vehicle, and the system does not interfere with driving. This includes collision or lane departure warning systems.

Level 1 – driver assistance

Тhe driver controls the vehicle, but the system can change the speed and direction of the vehicle. These include adaptive cruise control and lane management.

Level 2 – partial automation

The driver must be able to drive the vehicle if necessary, but speed and steering are no longer his responsibility. This includes parking assistance together with the Tesla autopilot function. And there is also system Distronic Plus, created by Mercedes-Benz. According to the requirements, in modes from level 0 to level 2, the driver should not be distracted.

Level 3 – conditional automation (mankind is here now)

The system fully controls speed, steering, and environmental conditions. The person should be ready to intervene when the system asks for it. If the driver does not respond within the allotted time, or there is a failure in the system, the car will stop itself. The driver is allowed only partially to be distracted, for example, to check the messengers, but he won't be able to sleep.

Level 4 – high automation

The system is in full control of the vehicle and the presence of a person is no longer required, but its application is limited to specific conditions. Unmanned taxi Waymo is an example of high automation. However, it is available only to a narrow circle of people and in a small area.

Level 5 – full automation

The system is able to control the same parameters as at Level 4, but will do so in all conditions. The person here is as meaningful as the cargo. Currently, there are no examples of level 5 systems.

Consumer Reports (something like the Consumer Union in the US) investigated the autopilots of 4 car manufacturers. Tesla's autopilot was in 2nd place. And brend Cadillac was recognized as the most technologically advanced and effective product. Nissan's ProPilot Assist system was ranked third and Volvo's Pilot Assist was fourth.

But these are not the only players in the market of automated technologies. The company Continental is also engaged in promotion of automated driving. In particular, it is developing new sensor technologies and high-performance computer systems.

In Russia, Mobileye has developed additional safety equipment that is suitable for cars of any type and year of manufacture. It is installed on the windshield and works as a co-pilot or a third eye. Mobileye can't be considered an autopilot, since the device does not replace the driver and does not relieve him of responsibility for driving and compliance with traffic rules. It only helps to predict a potentially dangerous situation and warn in advance so that a person can react.

Intel has its own vehicle control assistance system (ADAS). Together with Waymo and Mobileye, the company is working on the concept of autonomous driving. The latest models they've released are Chrysler Pacifica autonomous hybrid minivans equipped with Intel technologies for sensor data processing, general computing and connectivity. This allows them to make real-time decisions and move around in urban environments completely autonomously.

However, Waymo didn't join a coalition of companies which on 2 July 2019 signed a document on the paramount importance of safety in the development of driving automation. There was no Zoox, Tesla, Amazon Aurora, Pony.ai from Beijing, Nvidia and Yandex among them either. They explained their refusal by participating in other projects.

What does the autopilot system consist of?

Camera is the main source of information.

It is able to detect traffic lights, read road signs and signs, distinguish road markings, classify objects: pedestrians, cars, buildings. It cannot recognize the speed of objects and the distance to them. It is neither effective in fog, rain and snow, nor in low light conditions. But the camera is an inexpensive sensor.

Radar provides information about distances to objects and their speeds. It is suitable for working with remote objects, does not depend much on weather conditions, works in the dark. However, it transfers data about objects over a long distance, covering only a small area or about objects that are close, but with a much greater coverage. Radars cost more than cameras, but less than lidars.

Elon Musk believes that only a camera and radar will be enough for automated transport, and there is no need for the next type of sensors. Although most developers, on the contrary, prefer only lidars.

Lidars provide a well-detailed picture of what is happening around, determine the distance to objects and their speed. They have a good range and high speed of work, perform excellently in bad weather and at night. Their biggest drawback is the cost. However, Luminar company has recently developed a new lidar and called it Iris. Its price is claimed to be less than $ 1000. Compared to the current $ 75,000- lidars, it seems fantastic.

However, there are a number of problems that the inventors of autopilots have not figured out how to solve yet:

Legislation regulating the movement of the autopilots.

  • Recognition of signs that are damaged by vandals or corrupted due to weather conditions.
  • Preventing cyberattacks. Hackers can break into the network, interrupt data transmission, turn off the brakes or stop the car.
  • Ability to establish the culprit of the accident.
  • «Moral» issues related to autopilot decision-making. For example, whom to rescue in an emergency: a passenger or pedestrian?

    Former head of the US National Road Safety Administration Mark Rosekind said in an interview with the BBC:

    «Death of people at the stage of testing of unmanned vehicles is inevitable. Unfortunately, there will be accidents. People will get injured, some will die».

    Therefore, the introduction of mass production of autonomous vehicles that will move independently on public roads will require a lot of time and sacrifice. And there are no such obstacles for launching the SkyWay transport, which means that it has much more chances to become a leader.

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