Autonomous cars are becoming the new normal much earlier than anticipated. Artificial Intelligence experts and think tanks believe that it’s not long before driverless cars will join their human counterparts on the road. The emergence of AI backed cars and their self-sustaining eco-system requires a new perspective in terms of infrastructural, legislative and automobile innovation. But the overall consensus is that autonomous vehicles are the next big leap in the history of motor vehicles, similar to Henry Ford’s Model T or Da Vinci’s first prototype of the self-propelled cart.

These amazing machines are already making waves on the roads. Lyft, the ride hailing platform, is partnering with Drive.ai to offer semi-autonomous vehicles in the San Francisco Bay area. Pizza delivery with driverless cars are becoming more than a novelty run and companies like Ford, Tesla and Google are in the race to develop the next level of sophisticated and autonomous, self-driven cars. The ready prototypes have shown resilience and deep intelligence in understanding the surrounding environment and have also cleared stringent tests in safety and fuel efficiency.

So in the not-so-distant future, you may be cruising the highway in an autonomous vehicle that communicates with the external environment through a mobile interface. Your car will be capable of interacting with other vehicles on the road, find the shortest routes, beat traffic and prepare your home for your arrival. All this and more with minimal invasion on your wallet and privacy.

Connected autonomous vehicles are key to fuel efficiency

Thanks to the concept of eco-driving, autonomous vehicles can considerably bring down fuel consumption. Human drivers tend to accelerate or decelerate aggressively, resulting in higher energy wastage. Leaving the engine on during long traffic stops and instances of road rage are a dead ringer for fuel wastage. There have been studies that point out that eco-driving practices like real-time traffic sensing, telematics and behavior mapping can ensure fuel savings to the tune of 10 to 12%.

Communicating cars smoothen traffic patterns

Traffic congestions are the major culprits in aiding fuel wastage. Connected cars communicate with each other to keep themselves moving and precious fuel that is wasted in idle time and revving up the engines can be avoided. Platooning is yet another way in which autonomous vehicles have a positive impact on fuel usage. More and more cars line up in a formation, reducing aerodynamic drag and subsequently, bringing down fuel wastage. Experts point out that platooning has reduced the aerodynamic drag to the tune of 60% which can be godsend for an economy that depends on fossil fuels. This speaks volumes about the positive impact on the environment and the pollution status of a growing city.

Safer roads for all

Consider the following statistics:

  • 90% crashes are caused by human error.
  • Almost 30,000 people die in US alone due to traffic related deaths, more than airplane crashes or terrorism.
  • If 90% of the American cars are autonomous, then a whopping 5 million people can be saved.

Autonomous vehicles that communicate with each other and its infrastructure are in the best interests of human safety. A US Department of Transportation study found that vehicle to vehicle communication helps unimpaired drivers avoid 80% of the crashes. V2V and V2I communication, that predominately uses cameras and sensors, are conscious of other commuters and pedestrians. Environmental benefits, sustainability options and safety issues are making autonomous cars extremely attractive to future city planners. With more and more cities and towns seeing a boom in vehicular traffic, road rage incidents and smog toxicity are a major concern today. The emerging connected car technologies, like fully automatic driving highway, V2V virtual tow, adaptive cruise control, eco-navigation, wireless communication, traffic light synchronization and many more, have the potential to be life savers in these trying times.

Written by Thomas Kramer

on 14 Nov 2017

Thomas Kramer is our Head of Electronics and Software Development at Quest Germany. He has over 21 years of international experience in the automotive field. He started his career back in 1994 at a Japanese automotive major. During this tenure of 11 years here, he collected a wide range of experiences on various products and gained significant multicultural skills. He was in charge of all German OEMs and related suppliers. In 2005 Thomas moved over to an US based automotive major, taking charge of navigation map data for an advanced German OEM. Prior to joining Quest, Thomas worked with another Japanese automotive major as Business Manager for their German activities. Thomas holds a diploma in electrical engineering.