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The Gaps in Autonomous Vehicle Deployment

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April 1, 2020—The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has carried out more than 1,000 short and long-term research projects in areas involving vehicle accident data collection, traffic safety analysis, bioengineering, human factors and more. 

Debby Bezzina says UMTRI sponsors about $2 million of research every year.  

"At the University of Michigan we have honed in on and spent a lot of time and money looking at testing," she says. "When a vehicle gets on the road, the OEMs are doing a lot of development testing, verification and validation testing, and they have methodology to do that."

When the conversation moves to connected vehicles and automated vehicles, and testing those, the question is: "How do you get that testing completed?" Bezzina says researchers are looking into how to use a combination of stimulation and real-world testing to get that completed.

She says the team is also researching areas like motion sickness in an automated car. With an autonomous car, the driver also becomes the passenger and is affected by the sickness. And, the team also works on how vehicle technology affects people with disabilities.

"Our team is focusing on tightening the gap between those that do have and those that have-not," she says. 

Gaps Preventing AVs From Being Deployed

  1. Autonomous cars have a hard time picking up stopped cars. They run right into them.
  2. Radar can reject other vehicles as an out-of-path object. There are sensor-based errors which have often happened with Tesla crashes. 

If you dramatically decrease the amount of real-world testing with autonomous cars and couple it with stimulation testing, you can get the same results, Bezzina says. 

Gap No. 1: Perception

  • Amnon Shashua, CEO of Mobileye told Technology Review that a self-driving car needs to be able to perceive the road like a driver or better. Currently, driving assistance systems incorrectly perceive something in the environment every tens of thousands of hours.

Gap No. 2: Stopping Incorrectly

  • Only about three automakers have installed automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems to their fleet. And those that have, like Volvo, have encountered some issues with the technology. Recently, Volvo recalled more than 736,000 cars because the AEB system could not detect objects and stop as designed. A software-hardware incompatibility glitch causes the issue. 


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