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Self-Driving Car Tech Moves Forward

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Delphi Parking Assist

Delphi Parking Assist

Delphi, a major supplier to automakers worldwide, has built its own self-driving car, as Alex Davies writes for Wired. The car, based on a 2014 Audi SQ5, is, in Davies’ words, “an off-the-shelf autonomous system that could help automakers catch up with Google.”

The active safety features that Delphi has already developed include such technology as its adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation system, electronically scanning radar, integrated radar and camera system, intelligent forward view cameras (their 100 and 200 series), parking guidance system, lane departure warning, and rear and side detection system, according to Delphi.com.

Up until recently, these systems have worked independently of each other, but now Delphi has put them together, Davies writes. She quotes John Absmeier, director of Delphi’s R&D lab in Silicon Valley, as saying, “The reality of automated driving is already here.” Absmeier continues:

‘It’s just been labeled mostly as active safety or advanced driver assistance. But really, when you take that one step further and marry it with some intelligent software, then you make automation. And you make cars that can navigate themselves.’

Delphi, which provided the sensors and software, collaborated with Ottomatika, which contributed the control algorithm that gathers the data from the sensors and tells the car what to do, Davies writes. The finished product is called Delphi’s Automated Driving System, she adds.

Davies writes that Delphi sets no time frame for when self-driving cars will be on the roads without help from drivers. Absmeier told her that selling a drop-in autonomous system is not Delphi’s goal with this project. He explained: “The platform enables us to build out all those different components that are required to make an automated driving system in a car, and OEMs can either take the whole package or they can say I want that algorithm and that sensor and that controller, or whatever it is that they need.” Delphi is in talks with customers to sell elements from the self-platform in the next two years, Davies adds.

In related Wired article, Klint Finley writes about Josh Siegel, an MIT engineering student, who has created a device that plugs into newer cars and lets people build any app they like, including connected-vehicle features. Named Carduino, after Arduino (a tiny open-source circuit board that lets people build their own electronic gadgets), the app plugs into the diagnostic port of newer cars. (Older cars do not have such ports.) Although there are other tools that plug into these ports, such as Automatic and Carvoyant, Finley writes that those simply pull data from a vehicle. Carduino is different in that it can tap into a car’s controller area network (CAN), the system that a car’s components use to communicate with each other.

Only newer cars have CAN, Siegel says, and most cars built since 2004 feature the technology, Finley writes. CAN has only been required, however, since 2008. Some are concerned about security, because Carduino connects a car to the internet, but Car Know, Siegel’s company, has designed Carduino to avoid such problems. A bigger problem, Finley writes, is that CAN is not really a standard, as each carmaker sends messages in its own way, which can even vary from model to model. That problem can be solved by reverse engineering all of the messages for each car that uses Carduino, Finley writes.

Siegel plans to crowd-source a lot of the reverse engineering, Finley writes, quoting Automatic founder Ljuba Miljkovic as saying that could be “a huge challenge.” Siegel, who had been working on Carduino for six years as an MIT research project, said the tool will include several apps at the get-go. Developers, Siegel said, can get started “right away” to start creating apps for it. “I can’t wait to see what people do with their cars,” Siegel said.

Here is a video of some of the safety technology Delphi has created.

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