Owing to the technological revolution of the past decade, autonomous vehicles have gone from a mere concept to an inevitability. Till now, we have seen the proliferation of semi-autonomous Level 1 to Level 3 vehicles in the market where a human driver is indeed required and is augmented by intelligent automation. Thanks to the ever-increasing data accumulation and analysis capabilities, true automation in the form of Level 4 and Level 5 vehicles seems to be right around the corner, which will enable true autonomous driving with the help of artificial intelligence, without having the need for human intervention whatsoever.

Driverless cars are slated to make efficient and smart use of sensors and software in order to control, navigate and drive the said vehicles. While a fully autonomous vehicle would not require any human intervention, partially-autonomous vehicles, such as Tesla, calls for human intervention in case of any driving uncertainty. All this and more is being made possible with the help of smart device experience elements such as next-gen windshields and headlights, paving the way for a seamless driving experiencSmart windshields are being touted as a revolutionary technology that can digitally transform the entire view of roads, display warnings about oncoming collisions, highlight lane markers, and even display navigational arrows on pavements.

At present, Level 1 and 2 autonomous vehicles come equipped with windshields that can carry out smart functions such as:

  • Sensing blockheads before automatically slowing down the car.
  • Sensing changes in weather such as rain and automatically activating the viper.
  • Acting as a relevant interface for a superior experience.

Similarly, even headlights function as high-end modules of enhanced customer experience that are capable of capturing multiple data points for statistical inferences. This allows inputs from the real world to be captured in real-time and relay the data to a central system. In fact, modern-day headlights can have even a million bulbs wherein each pixel can light up different areas in front of the car. Let’s take the example of an oncoming car that in an unilluminated road where the probability of the driver being blinded by an intense beam of light is high. A smart headlight can enhance the Device Experience of the entire autonomous car by automatically calibrating the pixels to reduce the light intensity at the car. And all this while simultaneously increasing the illumination of an upcoming road sign.

All this and more allows the car to function as an interface point for customers that uses external stimuli to guide engagement and customer behavior.For instance, a car can autonomously recognize and drive to a nearby gas station or Starbucks.. With the windshield itself acting as an interface, customers/drivers can engage with the world in a way they could have only imagined a decade ago.

Another relevant example can be of a customer who has captured his online wishlist integrated with the smart systems of an autonomous vehicle. When the car drives by the matching retail stores, the customer is prompted if he or she wants to stop at the store for completing the purchase. This prompt can also be applied in the case of  ‘Click and Collect’ scenario where customers can select or buy items online and purchase them at the stores.

Now let’s talk about the smart technologies that enable autonomous driving. Creating smart systems for autonomous vehicles that sense its surroundings has been the main challenge of the industry.

automating various aspects of driving experience

This is being smartly managed by manufacturers with the deployment of the following technologies that work in perfect conjunction:

  • 4D Radars: These make use of radio waves to sense objects in the surroundings to directly measure the velocities of surrounding objects. The car is thus able to gauge the speed of all forthcoming vehicles on the road.
  • Cameras: They impart the capability to see lane lines and road signs in self-driving cars. They are assisted by machine learning capabilities at the back-end that helps the system to parse real-time data from copious amounts of pixels.
  • Lidar: It sends out millions of light pulses every second around the car while measuring the time it takes for every pulse to come back. This enables the car to get a general sense of the shape of surrounding objects.
  • Ultrasonic sensors: These are mainly used as sidekicks to provide additional sensing capabilities, especially at low-speed use-cases; for example, the parking sensors in current car systems.

While automating various aspects of driving experience is essential, it is equally important to enable smart interaction between the driver and the car with autonomous vehicle interfaces. These interfaces help the driver interact with the vehicles in smart ways.  For example, switching between manual or automatic transmission at the touch of a button, information about incoming traffic congestions/roadblocks using voice or visuals, proximity alert warnings, etc. Autonomous vehicle interfaces should be smart enough to decide when to use auditory or visual cues. They must be designed keeping human traits or emotions in mind to increase the level of the trust between the driver and the machine. The true purpose of such an interface should be to provide a contextualized and personalized experience to the customers.

To conclude we can say, that the safety of autonomous vehicles depends a lot on external elements such as roads, traffic, and weather. Hence, it is increasingly becoming important for car manufacturers to deploy dedicated technologies in a way that not only promotes safety but also ensures that the driving experience is flawless, connected and smart enough for customers to adapt to the technology with the least learning curve.

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Dhiman Ray

Posted by Dhiman Ray

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