Not many years have passed since we envisioned the near future without a steering wheel and pedals, where the car would drive itself while you could take a nap or read TU.
Mobileye and BMW were to launch fully self-driving cars in 2021They said, referring to the upcoming electric vehicle BMW iNext (now called BMW IX). The ninth is coming this fall, then without the advertised features.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that a Tesla car will drive alone from Los Angeles to New York by the end of 2017. Tesla made progress In self-driving, beta 10 of the self-driving software is now available for select drivers. However, the company has not yet shown such a motive.
Waymo, which has been developing self-driving car technology since 2009, this fall began offering free rides to select testers, but then only in a limited area of San Francisco and with a specialist on board.
It’s a long way to go from that to self-driving on narrow, bumpy Norwegian roads in inclement weather — at least if one is to believe the experts TU spoke to.
Will we have fully self-driving cars on all Norwegian roads? Anyway, I don’t think this will ever happen in my life, says Eric Olsen, 62.
As Director of the Department of Transport Management at the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Olsen leads several projects for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). He says that many in the Norwegian Public Roads Administration do not believe that it will be possible to have fully self-driving cars in Norway as a country.
– We have four seasons including snow covered roads. He says the sensors used have their strengths and weaknesses and perform poorly under certain conditions.
Ane Dalsnes Storsæter, who recently obtained his Ph.D. on how to adapt roads for automated driving, is also unsure whether we have fully autonomous driving in Norway.
– It might be a long time. She says the car’s ability to drive even unattended everywhere and in all conditions seems fairly perfect.
Storsæter currently heads the product research and development department at Q-Free. They are developing chipsets, roadside equipment and cameras for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).
A car sees the road differently than a person does
One thing is when car manufacturers think cars are ready for fully autonomous driving. Another thing when the authorities allow it.
Storsæter and Olsen both agree that self-driving cars will come primarily in limited areas. Olsen thinks it may be possible to make it easier to drive self-driving cars on some roads, such as the largest roads in eastern Norway.
—But I don’t imagine you’ll be able to drive even on the small roads of the Northwest in the winter, says Olsen.
Most obvious, says Storsæter, is limiting autonomous driving to regions, road quality and weather.
She explains that motorized cars don’t see the road the way you and I do – it has nothing to do with human-oriented descriptions like road categories. They rely on correctly interpreting road infrastructure such as road markings, roads and signs of varying quality and under different lighting and weather conditions, says Storsæter.
Olsen thinks it all culminates in the question of the cost of road maintenance. During periods of bad weather, heavy rain and/or large temperature differences, there will be a significant need for road maintenance.
Working with more intense challenges
At the same time, Olsen asserts that he could be wrong about Norway’s full self-driving capabilities.
– The world is moving fast. 20 years ago we would not have imagined cell phones as they are today. The cars also have technology that was previously unimaginable, he says and adds:
The primary task of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration is to create a safe transportation system, and if self-driving cars can help remove human error, we are of course interested in that, he says.
So far, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration is trying to solve more immediate challenges, such as ensuring that the national road data bank contains the right information. Many driver support systems today rely on data from this bank.
In other words, this is one of the many potential sources of error if you experience that your car’s smart cruise control module is not showing the correct speed limit.
– The road data bank is constantly evolving, and there are several ways to submit and retrieve data to the database. The challenge, Olsen says, is making sure the data is correct.
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