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Car Automation: 5 new models with Partial & Conditional automation coming in 2018.

Drivers will be able to experience Conditional automation (SAE Level 3) for the first time in 2018. But validation requirements and safety regulation will restrict customer availability- at least for the first half of 2018.

SAE Level 3 systems combine enhanced levels of sensor redundancy and robustness to be able to control steering, braking and accelerating under their operational domain, thus allowing drivers to turn their attention away from the road, i.e. “eyes-off the road”. However, a handover of control is required between the driver and the system so the driver must be available to takeover.

At the same time, more carmakers are launching Level 2 driving and parking features. More importantly, these features will not be the exclusive privilege of premium cars anymore as more and more Volume OEMs launch assistance systems to meet consumer demand and safety ratings.

Let’s look at some of the most important automated technology coming in new cars in 2018. We concentrate on driving features used in traffic jam situations and parking.

1. AI Traffic Jam Pilot (SAE Level 3-Driving) & AI Remote Parking (Level 2-Parking) in the 2018 Audi A8

Functionality: Audi states that “On highways and multi-lane motorways with a physical barrier separating the two directions of traffic, the Audi AI traffic jam pilot takes over the driving task in slow-moving traffic up to 60 km/h (37.3 mph). The system handles starting from a stop, accelerating, steering and braking in its lane. If the driver has activated the traffic jam pilot at the AI button on the center console, they can take their foot off the accelerator and their hands off the steering wheel for longer periods.

Unlike at level 2, they no longer need to monitor the car permanently and, depending on current national regulations, can turn to other activities supported by the on-board infotainment system. The driver must remain alert and capable of taking over the task of driving when the system prompts them to do so.”

Why it is important: It is the first-ever Level 3 in series production. To achieve the levels of redundancy and robustness the vehicle is also equipped with a laser scanner as an additional forward-looking sensor to the long-range radar and camera.

We expect other major carmakers introducing L3 to utilise an additional forward-looking sensor for redundancy, apart from Tesla, but not everybody believes that it should be a lidar- with ther carmakers might use a high-resolution radar. So far the high cost of lidar has been an obstacle to deployment but Audi’s strategy to enter series production and achieve economies of scale shows positive signs for higher sensor penetration. 

The new A8 also has a redesigned central driver assistance controller called zFAS, which generates an image of the surroundings while driving by fusing sensor data. At the same time, a second data fusion takes place in the radar control unit.

Laser scanner

Availability: Incrementally from early 2018 depending on the legal situation in the respective country. Even though deliveries of the first-ever Level 3-equipped car have just started, drivers won’t be able to experience “eyes-of-the-road” just yet because the AI Traffic Jam Pilot in Audi’s flagship A8 will be activated when it collects enough data for validation purposes. We expect that activation will occur by mid-2018.

Audi says that “Introduction of the Audi AI traffic jam pilot requires both clarity regarding the legal parameters for each country and specific adaptation and testing of the system”.

Introduction of the Audi AI traffic jam pilot requires both clarity regarding the legal parameters for each country and specific adaptation and testing of the system. Moreover, varying worldwide homologation procedures and their deadlines must be observed. Audi

Automated Driving System (ADS) name & level of automation: AI Remote Parking, SAE Level 2-Parking

Functionality: The Audi AI remote parking pilot and the Audi AI remote garage pilot autonomously steer the A8 into and out of a parking space or a garage, while the maneuver is monitored by the driver. The driver need not be sitting in the car. They start the appropriate system from their smartphone using the new myAudi app. To monitor the parking maneuver, they hold the Audi AI button pressed to watch a live display from the car’s 360 degree cameras on their device.

Why it is important: Audi’s first self-parking feature brings the brand in parity with Tesla, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in terms of Level 2 self-parking features.

2. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC & Active Steering Assist (Level 2-Driving) in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The updated S-Class, with the redesigned multi-function steering wheel providing direct access to the driver assistance systems, launched in autumn 2017 but we include it here because we expect an upgrade to Level 3 within 2018.

Functionality: The Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steering Assist now provide even more comfortable support for the driver to keep a safe distance and steer. The speed is now adjusted automatically ahead of bends or junctions.

Why it is important: Mercedes-Benz describes the updated S-Class as a “Level 2 Plus” car, to showcase the improvements made in the L2 Drive Pilot firstly-introduced in the E-Class.

Mercedes-Benz’s decision to “restrict” the S-Class to Level 2 was primarily driven to the uncertainty of the regulatory framework. Once the amendment of international regulation progresses, allowing the approval of Level 3, we expect that Mercedes-Benz will “unlock” the full potential of its flagship.

Read more about how the regulatory framework for Autonomous Driving evolves here.


3. Super Cruise (Level 2-Driving) in 2018 CT6 prestige

Functionality: It’s a highway driving automation technology that will enable hands-free driving even in stop-and-go traffic in lidar-mapped highways.

Cadillac’s system is a more conservative approach than Autopilot  and other L2-Driving features in that hands-free is confined to pre-lidar USA and Canada mapped motorways, so no city driving.

What it is important: It’s GM’s first-ever Level 2 system for highways. To keep drivers in the loop, Cadillac will feature a driver attention system which uses a small camera located on the top of the steering column and works with infrared lights to determine where the driver is looking whenever Super Cruise™ is in operation.

Availability: Firstly in the USA and Canada in 2018 and later in China.

4. Connected Pilot (Level 2-Driving) in DS7 Crossback

Functionality: The Connected Pilot will be capable of maintaining lane and positioning itself to the left or right of the lane to allow cycles or motorcycles to pass.

What it is important: PSA’s first model to offer Level 2-Driving & Level 2-Parking. The L2 systems present on the DS 7 Crossback will spread across the PSA Group onto Peugeot and Citroen models not long after it hits UK showrooms in 2018.

5. ProPilot Assist (Level 2-Driving) and ProPark (Level 2-Parking) in new Nissan Leaf

What it is important: Nissan launched the feature first in Japan in 2016. The 2nd gen Leaf will be the 1st Nissan in Europe to feature a Level 2-Driving system following its release in Japan in 2016.

Nissan will gradually roll-out more advanced autonomous drive technologies until 2020. By 2018, an updated version of the ProPilot (2.0) will be introduced with multiple-lane capabilities, followed by intersection capabilities for urban scenarios by 2020 (ProPilot 3.0).

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