Without a driver: when ground vehicles come to market

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Most likely, independent harvesters will appear in the fields before unmanned cars on the streets

Today, many leading brands, IT companies and other market participants unmanned ground vehicles compete with each other for the right to dominate the new economy. In what direction we can expect the release of the first commercial car, which rightfully can be called a drone? Whether it’s taxi, truck, machinery or something else?

Waiting avtorobotov

Speaking about unmanned transport, it is necessary to define what is meant by besplatnosti. In the popular sense it means full autonomy, when the driver does not intervene in the management process throughout its duration. Such a level of intelligence to their systems, the developers plan to achieve by 2025. And we must understand that it will be only the first samples avtorobotov. Mass their appearance on the roads will not happen in one moment. Experts predict that this will not happen until 2035. It is absolutely natural, gradual and inevitable process of change of old technologies with new, as it happened, for example, with the proliferation of mobile phones.

Solutions that allow you to move without the aid of a driver or a driver already present on the market. For example, the world famous trains in airports and subways. As well as forklifts, electric cars, mining machinery and other machines. However, they can work without driver only in limited areas. While all systems are claiming autonomy, are sure to have any restrictions in its use. If not on site, the functionality.

Degree of autonomy

In accordance with the generally accepted international classification SAE International intelligent driver assistance systems, or ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistant System), divided into six levels with increasing their autonomy:

zero — manual operation with smart hints system;

the first is a more advanced system of warning of collision and interference in management;

second — advanced active assistance to the driver (steering, braking, holding in the band);

third — the Autonomous movement of the car in certain modes (in traffic, on motorways), however, provides for the possibility of human intervention in critical situations;

fourth — Autonomous driving in certain modes, and the system will be able to maintain control even in critical situations;

fifth — completely Autonomous control.

Cars with restrictions to the third level are already available. In the first place is the luxury brand Mercedes, Volvo, BMW, and Tesla and others. They can move around without the help of the driver, but only in certain modes and situations, and when the autopilot driver must always be ready to take over. What can cause slackness of the driver in such situations, we have seen in last year’s crash of the Tesla.

Equipment systems ADAS first level already became a trend in the automotive industry. According to Automotive Fleet Magazine, the use of ADAS technologies in this sector will double annually, and in five years they did become essential. However, according to experts, because of the conservatism of designers in this market segment — the classic car manufacturers — sharp breakthrough here in the next few years and not wait.

Regulatory issues

Which of the other manufacturers to more quickly reach the anticipated result and will bring to market an unmanned vehicle depends not only on solving technical problems, but the speed of changes in legislation. As in the case of the transition from horse-drawn transport on the road, the lawyers will take many years to develop proper regulations on the use of innovative technological systems. On whom should lie the responsibility for the accident — the driver or the developer? How to work the insurance system for drones? The answers to these questions today to the end is not obtained. For example, the permit driverless cars on public roads only exists in some US States and certain territories and some countries of Europe and Asia. And understanding should there be moral criteria of behaviour autorobot and how to regulate the behavior of the drone in emergency situations, when someone of the members of the movement will have to sacrifice, even today missing.

Smart agriculture

So most experts expect the first commercial appearance of unmanned vehicles in those sectors where legislative regulation is not required. First of all we are talking about agriculture. The process of movement on the field according to the difficulty level compares with the city. There were no pedestrians, no traffic, no oncoming lanes, no intersections. Therefore, the analysis of field scene, there is no need to treat whole classes of objects such as road signs, traffic lights, road markings, other road users etc. are Also in the field is much less than the likelihood of dangerous and emergency situations.

In addition, agriculture is less sensitive to hardware changes. Adding an external device such as camcorder, the harvester is not almost any difficulty and requires a minimum of approvals. A similar procedure in the case a car is already a serious technical problem. For example, installing a regular stereo in the cabin of “KAMAZ” has become for our company the whole project.

Finally, farming does not require certification of vehicles for testing, which significantly reduces the cycle bringing design to industrial design.

Of course, here too there are complications. Unlike the unmanned vehicle the combine need to exercise automatic control over dozens of parameters of technological process: from the selection of the necessary angle of the harvester to determine grain quality. On the combine in addition to cameras installed dozens of different sensors. For example, irregularities in the selection of the optimal speed of technology can cause tons of uncollected culture and multimillion-dollar losses for the entire economy as a whole.

However, a comprehensive assessment of the whole process of unmanned agricultural machinery and unmanned vehicle experts are unanimous in their opinion that the development of the first class of vehicles is still faster and easier to conduct. Therefore, according to current projections, the mass drone of combine harvesters, we should expect to 2023-2024 years.

The authors ‘ point of view, articles which are published in the section “Opinions” may not coincide with ideas of editorial.

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