Performance paradox for Self-Driving Cars
For several years, performance of a car had been persevered with engine volume, horsepower, torque, transmission versus acceleration, brake timings etc. Driving was seen as an experience with the car’s performance and drivers were keen to drive at maximum performance from their cars. Performance features of cars get derived from their racing counterparts and gradually it becomes an essential commodity for a road car. Choosing a car was simple; more the performance, better the car. A car with a V12 engine, high BHP, high torque and higher accelerations on lower gears was a phenomenon that eventually became a car owner’s manual for recommendation.
Over the last two decades, cars got equipped with advanced safety features and increased automation to make driving simpler and easier. Features like Power Steering, Anti-Lock Braking System, Electronic Stability Program, Anti-Slip Regulation and Traction Control System became equipped to provide assistance to drivers. So over the course of time, one could see OEMs/Car Manufacturers concentrating on aesthetics and safety of driving rather than performance. Purchasing a car with these features became a rising trend with concentration towards safety.
Past few years it became an era for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems/ADAS like Lane Departure Warning System, Lane Keeping Assist, Traffic Sign Board Recognition, Parking Assist, Automatic Cruise Control, Adaptive Headlamp Control, etc. One can see cars getting equipped with cameras, radars and ultrasonic technologies to provide assistance on surroundings neighboring a car. OEMs started concentrating on semi-automated driving where some features became like a secondary driver for the car. These technologies avoided accidents due to driver’s fatigue or lack of concentration on driving.
The next decade will be the era of Driverless Cars where driving will become a hobby rather than a commodity. One can see the discussed features of ADAS evolving to automation in cars with a central intelligence guiding steering, accelerations and brakes avoiding obstacles, pedestrians, and cyclists. One can see new technologies like LIDARs, DSRC, and connected car apart from existing cameras, radars and ultrasonic sensors. OEMs will concentrate of removing driver from the equation and completely depend on Computers to traverse through the urban rush.
“Nobody bothers if your car is a V12 with a very high BHP, torque and greater accelerations at lower gears. Gone are these days. Now, it is more like how many meetings or conferences did you finish while traveling”. One can recommend a Self-Driving Car based on number, type, cost and feature of sensors, types of accidents it can avoid, comfort and safety of the passengers, enhanced infotainment and connectivity. So performance is no longer a primary criterion in choosing a car. Features which make passengers finish some business during transit along with safety and performance will be a deciding factor in future self-driving cars that anyone buy.
The author is Lead Consultant – Embedded Systems, ITC Infotech