People Innovation Excellence

Have Car, No Driver

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INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – VOLUME 43 NUMBER 11

Autonomous Vehicles Are Taking A Step Forward
Driverless vehicles are the next big thing in human factors engineering. Volvo Trucks combine the best automated systems with a professional driver’s expertise. Statistics indicate that 95 percent of automotive accidents are due to human nature who are fallible not like computer. But computer can only do things for which it is programmed, as soon as the environments are outside of normal situations, that is where human’s skill comes in. In vehicle platooning, a professional driver in a lead vehicle drives a line of other vehicles. Each vehicle in the procession measures the distance, speed and direction to the car in front and adjusts accordingly. The vehicles are not attached to each other and can leave the convoy at any time.

Volvo researchers and other European companies have been working on this for 15 years and autonomous vehicles date back to 1970s’ Japan. Carl Johan Almqvist said the collaborating companies have helped the technology evolve to automate tasks that increase comfort, safety, and efficiency. Almqvist foresees increased traffic safety and fuel economy combined with a more comfortable driving experience for the drivers and haulers.

By creating this new technology, people would be able to do other things such as reading magazine, surfing the internet or plan the day’s activities while they are inside the vehicle. Truly autonomous vehicles could be years in the making, but step by step parts of the driving process will be automated. Before that, fully autonomous vehicles could be employed for short distance transport. Engineers still working on how to change different modes of platooning with no driver to leaving a convoy and being fully in charge as a driver. There are many other concerns include the regulatory framework and new business models that need to be solved.


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