This January, President Obama pledged $4B for what he calls a “21st century transportation system.” This new transportation system was revealed, in part, to $4B earmarked specifically for research and development of automated vehicles. As a part of this new budget spend, federal regulators are working hard to clarify the “rule interpretation requests” sent in by manufacturers like BMW. These requests allow governing agencies to determine whether features like automated parking assistance fit into current driving standards and regulations. This opens up a dialog between car manufacturers and agencies like the NHTSA, which will allow rules to be adjusted as technology adapts to automated vehicles.
Machine vision can do more than drive us
There are many ways that automated vehicles could change not only our roads, but our use of technology in an industrial setting. For example, the machine vision systems and safety mechanisms developed for an automated fleet can also be employed inside manufacturing plants. Improved inspection and safety measures along a production line could dramatically improve efficiency on the plant floor, and automated forklifts and light trucks could easily automate tasks such as warehouse fulfillment duties. Investment in automated vehicle technology could offer massive benefits to the industrial market.
Connected embedded components will finally leave the confines of Building Automation Systems
Smart homes have long been the testing ground of connected component-level devices like thermostats and lighting. Soon, however, we may be able to connect these systems with the other systems in our life for a true Internet of Things experience. With development in dashboard Infotainment, we may begin to connect systems such as the smart shopping list in our fridge with the system of an automated car that can remind us to pick up milk and eggs on the (automated) drive home. Using GPS technology, we may find our lights turning on and our air conditioner adjusting to preferred temperatures well before we even enter our homes.
Changing the idea of a personal vehicle
One of the more interesting shifts in automated vehicle trends has been the rise of the ‘sharing’ economy, and the move away from personal vehicle ownership. While it’s likely that many may continue to own personal vehicles, they may not be necessary – even in our current car-centric environments. Uber fleets anticipate going driverless by 2030, and many trucking and bus companies are beginning to expand research on driverless shipping trucks and automated bus fleets.
Large cities such as Florence and Madrid, meanwhile, have already begun closing downtown centers to vehicular traffic altogether as a means of preserving landmarks and preventing air pollution. With car and parking bans inside city centers, driverless cars that can pick up and drop off pedestrians and then move on to serve other passengers may be a way to ensure transportation in and out of city centers.
A brilliant new market for embedded devices and the software that powers them
The IEEE estimates that 75% of all vehicles will be autonomous by the year 2040. To make that happen, there will need to be a huge investment in embedded computing and software capable of running on small-footprint devices. InduSoft Web Studio has been working for years to develop HMI software capable of running on embedded devices. New products like InduSoft Web Studio IoTView and InduSoft Web Studio 8.0, which was developed with platform agnosticism in mind, allow engineers to create interfaces and IoT applications for the many disparate systems that must come together to create machines capable of tasks as complex as autonomous driving.