Feb 042019
 

Autonomous VehiclesWhile fully self-driving vehicles aren’t quite part of today’s reality just yet, many new cars feature assisted and partial automation already.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders predicts the technology being developed for connected and autonomous vehicles will have prevented 25,000 accidents by 2030.

Warranty Direct looks at some of the key self-driving technologies making today’s vehicles safer and more efficient.

Ultrasonic sensors

 Most drivers will be familiar with ultrasonic sensors, with many vehicles already adopting the technology to help with reversing into tight parking spaces and more.

Ultrasonic sensors send out sound waves to detect surrounding objects. When the waves hit an object, it gives the car an accurate measurement of how close they are, to avoid collisions.

Blind-spot information system

Blind spot monitoring technology uses radar systems or rear-facing digital cameras, to sense vehicles which appear in a car’s blind spot. If this happens, a warning light shows in either the door mirror or within the A-pillar to alert the driver and make them aware of a potential hazard.

It’s become particularly useful when a motorist wishes to change lanes, as the technology offers an audible or haptic message if there is another vehicle in a car’s blind spot.

While it should reduce the number of collisions caused from changing lanes, drivers still need to check their blind spots and mirrors regularly and not become dependent on this technology alone.

IoT connectivity

Utilising IoT connectivity gives vehicles the ability to access wider data, like real-time traffic and weather updates, to ensure the safest and smoothest drive possible.

Connecting to a world of internet devices poses its problems, though. Privacy and safety are the biggest issue, with automated cars open to hacking, and the threat of information theft from connected devices like mobile phones.

Lane-keeping alert and automatic steering assist

By using a forward-looking camera, this technology has been developed to recognise when drivers are drifting out of a lane. Most vehicles will give either a visual or audible warning, but some higher-end motors now have automatic systems to divert a car safely back into the correct lane.

At the moment the technology is most effective on dry motorways and in a smooth flow of traffic, but there are developments being made to make it more precise and better suited to other situations such as driving on rural roads.

Traffic sign recognition

This uses a camera to scan road signs, then communicates this information back to either the dashboard or infotainment section of a vehicle.

All drivers should be well-versed on the Highway Code, which provides information on all the relevant road signs. However, this technology has been designed more as “extra driving assistance”, to help people when on unfamiliar roads or if they may have missed a change in the speed limit.

What’s next…?

Automation is measured in five stages; with the final, most advanced stage being a fully autonomous system. This is when a vehicle’s performance is equal to that of a human driver.

The majority of vehicles are currently at stage two, which is what the systems listed earlier like park assist and lane-keeping alert are currently rated.

But what are some of the technologies the motoring industry has in the pipeline to take us to stage five?

Car-to-x

Mercedes-Benz is currently working on a new technology – car-to-x – which will allow drivers to see ‘into the future’ – past multiple bends and maybe even further.

The sophisticated technology establishes networked links among and between vehicles and traffic infrastructure, so you can adjust your driving behaviour and defuse potentially dangerous situations.

The new GPS

Fully self-driving cars will rely on GPS devices to locate their position, helping to establish a route, know when to turn and more.

The worry is GPS devices can sometimes be off by a few metres, which would be extremely dangerous for a travelling vehicle. However, by connecting to other built-in sensors and cameras, vehicles can pinpoint an exact location.

Oct 152018
 

Autonomous Vehicles
The ‘future’ is finally here as self-driving cars aren’t a ‘what if?’ but rather a ‘why not’? Just a few years ago it was largely uncharted territory but now, every major car manufacturer is pursuing the technology and some autonomous vehicles are already on the road in Paris, Singapore and several states in the US.

What Car Manufacturers Are Involved?

GM tops the list with Daimler-Bosch (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz), Ford, Volkswagen and BMW not far behind. What’s more, whole manufacturers are working together, with Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi having formed an alliance while Volvo, Autoliv, Ericsson and Zenuity have formed a separate alliance.

With GM having promised the release of driverless taxis in large cities by 2019, it’s about time we all figured out how they work.

How Do Self-Driving Cars Work?

In short: self-driving cars create and maintain an internal map of their surroundings using lasers, sensors, radars and even sonar. Every system is different and technologies (unsurprisingly) continue to evolve. The ‘map’ is then continually processed by the cars software and a path is plotted. The car is able to accelerate, brake and steer through actuators while algorithms, codes and predictive modelling help the car follow the rules of the road and avoid hitting people and other objects.

Machine Learning and AI

The most important feature of these man-less machines is Machine Learning. This AI (artificial intelligence) tool trains computers to detect pedestrians and differentiate between a bicycle and a motorcycle. Because it’s impossible to write a rule (those algorithms we talked about above) for every situation in this complex world, the cars have to be trained to learn and navigate on their own.

The Future

There are currently several levels of autonomy and researchers have created a scale from 0-5.

Most of us are currently driving either a Level 0 or a Level 1, with Level 0 being a car completely controlled by the human and Level 1 being a car that has features like cruise control. Level 2 offers several systems, like automatic acceleration and braking, but it still requires a human for operation. Moving up to Level 3, the car can – for all intents and purposes – drive on its own, but a human can be alerted to take over under certain circumstances. Level 4 is a fully autonomous car in most situations while Level 5 is fully autonomous and self-drives in every situation.

With Level 5’s driving around several cities in the world on their own, we should expect to see them in the UK sooner than any of us could have expected.

 

Dec 012016
 

Ever since the development of the very first automobile, the Benz Patent Motor Car in 1885, the motoring industry has been a constant cycle of new intelligence and innovation. From the Ford Model T to the Bugatti Veyron, each year sees a range of technology released that is taking the car to places we never thought it could go. These developments are something we’re constantly bearing in mind at Warranty Direct as our policies will need to reflect the changes in car safety and reliability.

We’re now reaching a particularly important stage in the evolution of the motorcar, with environmental concerns being the most pressing issue, so it will be fascinating to see what features come as standard in the average car in ten years’ time. Find out more about what you can expect to see in your car in years to come with Warranty Direct’s look into the potential Future Features of Motoring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative Fuels

Given carbon emissions from vehicles is a huge talking point, and will continue to be for some time, the possibilities that alternative fuels give to the motoring industry are crucial. As the world’s top selling hybrid vehicle, the Toyota Prius set the standard in terms of quality and availability at the beginning of the alternative energy era. However, in recent years Renault Zoe and the Nissan Leaf have provided genuinely affordable, all-electric options, leading the way in sustainable transport for the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Live’ Satellite Navigation

Satellite navigation has been a part motoring technology for some time now, but we’re about to reach a new stage of capability. Nokia-owned company, HERE, have developed a dynamically updating Live Map, which is essential to autonomous cars, and plots every lane marker, guard rail, and speed limit change to an accuracy of ten centimetres – this is three to five times better than the current GPS systems.

 

 

 

 

 

V2V Communication

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication will mean that cars are able to share alerts, such as traffic delays, accidents, and warnings, over encrypted radio signals. This will make driving far safer, as it will allow other cars to develop a picture of what’s unfolding around them and the driver, based on the speed, position and braking status of other cars on the road. This technology is already available in the Mercedes Benz E-Class, but is currently only a Benz network feature – however, this may not be the case for long.

 

 

 

 

 

Head-up Displays

Another development which could significantly improve the safety of driving. Head-up displays project details crucial to a driver, such as speed, fuel projections, and GPS directions, onto the windscreen, meaning the driver never has to look away from their main focus – the road. In terms of satellite navigation, we may even start seeing ‘active glass’, capable of displaying vibrant images and upcoming corners in the road.

 

 

 

 

 

Active Health Monitoring

This feature would work in conjunction with basic autonomous technology and could be hugely important for the safety of drivers and those around them. With the implementation of seatbelts and/or steering wheels with sensors that track vital statistics, a car could detect any sudden health issues – such as a heart attack – in the driver and could pull itself over and make an emergency services call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autonomous Vehicles

Within a decade, fully autonomous cars could well be the norm rather than the exception. Tesla, leading innovation again, have already released footage of cars that are equipped with full self-driving hardware – the driver can input their destination into the sat-nav, and the car navigates its way to the destination, stopping for pedestrians and performing a parallel park at the end… So we might expect driving tests to become easier over the next ten years too! Before that however, legislation and regulations regarding the use of autonomous cars as a mode of transport are still to be decided.

These are just a few of the exciting possibilities that await motorists in the future. What will the future of vehicle warranties bring? Time will tell. As always we’ll be keeping an eye out for any motoring news that may be of interest here at the Warranty Direct blog and via our Facebook and Twitter pages. Make sure you like and follow our social channels to stay connected with Warranty Direct.

Jul 312016
 

The race is currently on to create the next breakthrough in driving – autonomous cars. With technology companies and car manufacturers rigorously testing their own take on the driverless car, how far are we from the new future of motoring?

The support for autonomous / driverless cars was front and centre of recent new government backed legislation in early 2016. The overall aim was to have motorists buying and using self-driving cars by 2020. Chances are, if you’ve followed news within the motoring world, you’ve likely been hearing a lot recently about plans for driverless cars and many are keen to jump on the bandwagon.

Partially autonomous cars are already available now to motorists; with the ‘Parking Assist’ feature widely embodied in a variety of car makes and models.  Furthermore, some cars on the market are already experimenting with the technology themselves such as the high profile Tesla Model S “Autopilot” feature. But this has only been an indication of what a fully driverless car could potentially achieve.

Plans for full autonomous cars have been frequently announced across manufacturers and mainstream companies. Volvo laid down plans earlier in the year regarding their ambitious trial of recruiting members of the British public to test their autonomous technology on a public highway. This particular test will see a limited number of semi-AD cars running in London early next year.  Similarly, The GATEway project has also opened their doors to the public to participate in similar trials – conducted at the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab in Greenwich.

Search engine giants Google have also been flying their flag for driverless cars for a considerable amount of time. They’ve been constantly in the spotlight with their own vehicle throughout its testing phase. However, early reviews from journalists were not thrilled by the car’s performance. This hasn’t been helped by some additional public testing hiccups along the way with the occasional crash and police pulling a test model over for being too slow. It seems Google’s advantage in the race to create the first driverless car has faded. With other companies like Uber and possibilities surrounding Apple’s involvement in the motor industry, it’s clear that this method of transport seems high on agenda’s for the manufacturer and technology companies.

As it stands it’s too early to see who will launch their driverless vehicle first, so don’t expect them to appear on driveways near you just yet. There are still many other areas to address before driverless cars can be properly inducted onto our roads. Motor insurance guidelines, driving tests and other areas of established road rules and regulations also need to be prepared for the dawn of the driverless motor. Despite the backing of UK legislation, the autonomous future seems to be coming though at a cautious pace.