Autonomous vehicle technology promises to deliver sustainable growth for automotive companies in the long run. The increasing rate of road accidents due to human error, tiredness, and other factors led to the investment in AV technology. However, the viability of this technology is far from perfection. Eventual success requires collaboration between car prototyping companies, stakeholders, and automotive industries for huge leaps in reliability, safety, cost, and performance for this technology. In this article, we will discuss the pivotal role that automotive prototyping contributes to this industry and what more it can deliver.
Development of AV technology over the years
The concept of autonomous vehicle technology dates back to 1920 when the Linriccan Wonder was the world’s first radio-controlled car. Following this, in 1939, electric cars equipped with smart circuitry were introduced.
It was then in 1980 when Mercedes introduced the first robotic van which incorporated vision-guided systems. This marked the start of a new era in automotive technology which using car prototyping techniques gradually led to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).
These smart-systems require the amalgamation of several engineering disciplines like mechanical engineering, automotive prototyping, computer science, electronics engineering, etc. According to a report from the World Health Organization from 2020, there are approximately 1.35 million deaths per annum as a result of traffic incidents. Among these incidents, most are attributed to human error and very few are due to the failure of the automotive itself. Denser traffic and an increase in distractions like smartphones ultimately mean that this number is likely to rise unless AV technology is mastered and made default in every automotive.
The AV industry is divided into 6 levels of automation:
- Level 0: Driver in full control with no assistance from the vehicle.
- Level 1: Basic and stand-alone driver-assistive features are present.
- Level2:Partial automation with a combination of automated features help reduce the workload of driver. However, the driver must actively monitor the environment and act promptly.
- Level 3: Some features of the car are entirely automated while some are not. In this level of automation, the driver can be demanded by the vehicle automated systems to take control of the situation if required.
- Level 4: This is an advanced level of automation where the vehicle is entirely automated. The option to control the vehicle can be opted by the driver but is not necessarily required.
- Level 5: This is a level where automation is based on Artificial Intelligence and the vehicle practically has a mind of its own and can learn from its surroundings and effectively learn for future situations.
Mishaps and challenges in the AV industry
2020 was supposed to be the year when approximately 10 million self-driving cars would have been on the road. Tesla made claims of mastering the technology by 2018 while Honda and Toyota claimed to do it by 2020. However, it was never a smooth ride for these companies as car prototyping in this niche isn’t as simple as it seems.
Humans don’t purely rely on algorithms to make a wide array of decisions during driving. Instinct, judgement and decision are part of what makes human brains far more capable. There is no shortcut with regard to teaching a computer how to react to billions or probably trillions of road occurrences.
Notable mishaps in the AV industry include the fatal crash from March 2018 involving an Uber. The AV crashed into a pedestrian and caused a fatality. An investigation into the incident revealed that the ultrasonic sensors and close-range cameras weren’t operational at the time of the crash. This incident revealed the repercussions of prematurely trusting technology when further car prototyping was the need of the hour.
Not only this but another incident from 2018 involving Tesla’s autopilot system caused a fatality and several theories are looming over regarding the cause of the crash. The main question becomes: Can we really feed every combination into a computer’s algorithm and ensure that all vehicles are interconnected with a central management system to avoid accidents?
We will answer this question in the next section.
How car prototyping services are advancing the AV industry?
Modular testing systems based on prototyping are far more proficient in making new technology adaptive and prospective. Car prototyping services account for major advancements in this industry including:
- Maturing software quality and machine learning: It is critical to validate algorithms within the car prototyping stages to avoid mishaps. Maturing software quality and ensuring ample machine learning requires abundant software refactoring. Real-time prototypes are built and tested under controlled virtual environments. Data is then analyzed to detect loopholes. Moreover, strict adherence to code compliance procedures is ensured to ensure fewer complexities during production phases.
- Virtual Simulation: A lot of sensors and actuators means verification and validation through the use of virtual simulation under a controlled environment. There are two types of testing namely Closed Loop and Open Loop. Sensor models, dynamic models, traffic situations along with accurate prototyping ensures that hours are spent on the testbed instead of putting the public at risk.
- Safety and Security: As the utilization of networked computational resources suggest, cybersecurity is a major point of discussion in the autonomous vehicle market. Automotive prototyping services can help a great deal in testing solutions for ensuring safety, security and reliability in a world where levels of hacking are quite elevated.
- Practical testing at reduced costs: When the final stage testing is carried out, companies nowadays tend to test their prototypes in less crowded environments to lend the AV a breathing space for further learning. In practical testing scenarios, it wouldn’t be wise to place out the most expensive aesthetics just to impress prospective customers. Instead, car prototyping companies can provide solutions for low-cost modular custom auto parts or replicas for product development at minimal costs.
We hope this article served as an insight to you into how the autonomous vehicle industry has developed over time and what role car prototyping services have played till this moment and will play in the future. It can certainly be said that widespread and safe testing of functional prototypes in real-time environments is key to the adaptability of this technology soon to reduce ongoing issues of traffic congestion, transportation costs and improve livability and walkability.