Continental, an Auburn Hills-based automotive technology company, today announced the debut of Cruising Chauffeur, which allows a vehicle’s computer system to take over the driving task on highways in accordance with national traffic regulations. The feature is expected to be ready for production in 2020.
When the vehicle needs to exit the highway, control is transferred back to the driver. The handover is initiated by a new human machine interface, which is being developed for and tested in Continental’s fleet of automated vehicles. If the driver fails to respond when prompted to resume control, the vehicle will identify a safe and secure area and bring itself out of the flow of traffic through a minimum risk maneuver.
“Cruising Chauffeur will offer various safety benefits to the driver,” says Jeremy McClain, head of systems and technology for chassis and safety at Continental North America. “First and foremost, automated driving prevents human error in everyday driving, while at the same time offering a comfortable ride. Furthermore, Cruising Chauffeur includes an additional fallback mode that conventional vehicles do not have. If for whatever reason the driver is not responsive, the Cruising Chauffeur brings the car to a safe stop.”
When Cruising Chauffeur is activated, data from multiple camera, radar, and LIDAR sensors is analyzed in a central control unit and used to generate a 360-degree model of the vehicle’s surroundings. In combination with a high-resolution map, the system recognizes all moving and stationary objects as well as a layout of the upcoming roadway. The vehicle is also constantly determining its own position and can identify safe places to execute autonomous lane changes and passing maneuvers. Through “artificial empathy” and interior cameras, the vehicle can also calculate the driver’s attention level by interpreting gaze patterns and other data.
Because human error still accounts for more than 90 percent of road accidents, Continental believes automated driving and Cruising Chauffeur will be “an important factor” in achieving Vision Zero, the goal of road traffic without fatalities, injuries, or accidents.
“Unfortunately, health problems are a very common reason why a driver does not react to a handover request,” adds Ibro Muharemovic, head of Cruising Chauffeur. “Automated driving will put us in a position to effectively help the driver in emergency situations like these.”