Autonomous Car Technology in PH Cars
STANDING START - Lord Seno (The Freeman) - September 14, 2020 - 12:00am

About 7 years ago, I wrote about how the autonomous car (AV) or self-driving car was going to be a mainstream technology in a decade. Fast forward to now, plenty of cars in the market are now equipped with significant driver aids that offer a degree of self-driving, shouldering a portion of the responsibility of the car’s operation.

These driver aids were the technologicalbasis for what the first commercially viable self-driving car was made off. Indeed, in just a few years after these breakthroughs were introduced, Tesla rolls out the Model S, with autopilot features, blending self-braking, steering and acceleration tech, using hundreds of electronic sensors to keep their occupants safe.

The problem with this technology is it’s so electronically driven, it becomes so complicated. When the Antilock Brakes System (ABS) was introduced in the early 90s, most of the motoring world never knew exactly how it worked except that it readspeed sensors from each wheel that related to digital signals to a computer controlled brake pump. It also did not help that the technology hadvaried names between manufacturers or often goes by more than one abbreviation.

Now, much has been improved with the ABS and it has become a standard in almost all road cars.  Here are some of the key self-driving car technologies available in the Philippines that will hopefully be standard equipment in the near future:

Forward Collision Alert/Warning (FCA)

Forward Collision Warning or Alert systems have been around for more than a decade and are among the most simple and effective driver aids. Able to watch the road ahead and recognize potential dangers, the systems usually rely on a forward-facing camera or radar to measure the distance between your car and other motorists or objects, using audio and visual warnings to alert drivers to potential danger.  FCA is available in the premium sedans and SUV’s.

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)

Autonomous Emergency Braking is closely related to the FCA, addressing potential crashes by applying the brakes to prevent a collision.

The systems have the potential to save lives by watching over the shoulder of inattentive motorists, and will soon become as common as airbags or ABS in the safety packages of new cars. For now, these are present in premium cars.

The problem with AEB is that unlike airbags or ABS, the AEB is still in the early stage and has its share of inefficiencies.  There are also significant differences between the way different systems work between manufacturers.

Some are designed to stop a car travelling at highway speed to a halt, while others work only at low speed or are designed to reduce the severity of an accident rather than preventing it from happening.

A system’s ability to detect hazards varies from manufacturer to manufacturer too. Some will only spot other vehicles, while more advanced systems can detect smaller obstacles such as cyclists or pedestrians on the road or sidewalk.

Self Parking (SPS)

Self Parking systems represent a significant breakthrough in the race to offer a self-driving car as they take the hassle out of the most cumbersome task there is in driving.

Using parking sensors at the front, rear and side of the car, Self Parking systems measure vacant car spaces the same way the sensors warn the driver of accidents.

Most systems require drivers to operate the transmission, throttle and brake as directed by the software, with the car steering itself into parallel or perpendicular parking spaces like a seasoned driver.

For now, the technology is only available on premium and luxury cars. (to be continued)

CAR TECHNOLOGY
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