The practicalities of automated vehicles in 2017

Posted by Global technology interface on June 15, 2017

In the United States alone, there are approximately 350,000 road accidents involving trucks, resulting in nearly 4000 deaths per year[1]. Most of these accidents are attributed to human errors, which are likely to increase owing to the fact drivers are typically paid per mile of transport[2]. Moreover truck drivers drive for a certain amount of time each day – typically 11 hours in the US – and drive at higher speeds than the optimal fuel-efficient speed of about 45 miles per hour[3]. Therefore the benefits of automated trucks and buses, provided that the technology is reliable, trumps driven vehicles in its potential to save lives, reduce carbon emissions, property damage and liability issues.


The automated vehicle (AV) sector has intense competition; just recently Google slapped Uber with a lawsuit for allegedly for stealing LiDAR technology that was first developed by Google[4]. According to lawyers representing Google “this is a case that involves potentially what may be the most lucrative business in history.” LiDAR, (abbreviated for Light Detection and Ranging), is currently the most widely used and coveted technology in the autonomous vehicle development industry. It is estimated that there are 33 companies in the autonomous vehicle industry, ranging from Apple to Chinese bus manufacturer Yutong racing to build low-cost, effective technologies to perfect autonomous vehicles[5].


Paris recently integrated driverless buses into its public transport system. Developed by the French firm Easy Mile, the small EZ10 vehicle can hold up to 12 people, uses cameras, lasers, and GPS to get around, and has a top speed of 12mph. Similarly, another French company Navya launched a driverless shuttle system is Las Vegas; which holds up to 12 riders and can reach a decent 27 mph[6]. The holdup with most companies is that the primary technology involved in automations uses LiDAR, which can cost upwards of 75,000USD for a single car[7]. Tesla, is one of the few companies that isn’t testing LiDAR in its automated vehicle R&D program. However, Tesla came under scrutiny last year when a car’s sensor system failed to distinguish between a large 18-wheel truck and the blue sky, resulting in the death of one of their customers[8].

Clearly the automated vehicle industry has a good 5 years of R&D work pending, in terms of bringing down the cost of technology, filing patents, working with policies regarding automated vehicles, etc. In the meanwhile Global Business Inroads has been working with a startup based in California called SIRAB Technologies. SIRAB has developed a high-reliability based radar system, which guarantees the safety of its passengers (alternate AV technologies do not). Buses integrated with SIRAB technology require a separate lane for the technology to work safely, and use radars and RCS (trihedral cubic corners), to maintain lanes. While global corporations compete and race to build the perfect autonomous vehicle, it may be worth exploring and integrating current technologies to pave the way for future AVs.


To read more about SIRAB –

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