The Pathway to Self-Driving Cars

Years ago, you’d need to buy a relatively expensive car to enjoy the convenience and fuel vehicle_to_vehicle_communication(2)savings of cruise control. Today, it is standard on a wide range of vehicles, including many economy cars. Moreover, some high-end cars are equipped with much more advanced systems, including adaptive cruise control that uses radar to monitor traffic and apply the brakes when necessary. There are cars now that can park themselves or alert you when you drift outside your lane. It’s a brave new world.

Last week, Intel announced Intel® In-Vehicle Solutions, a family of pre-integrated and validated hardware and software products to help automakers speed time-to-market and help drive the evolution from convenience features to advanced driving features. What intrigues me most about this arena is that as cars become more intelligent, they will be capable of collaborating, interacting, and sharing pertinent information with other cars, manufacturers, service providers, and more. Turning data into actionable insight both inside the car and in the world around it will transform the ownership experience for both consumers and automakers.

How far can it go? For example, will we see a self-driving car soon? A study commissioned by Intel earlier this year found that, on average, half of Americans desire a driverless society. There are several factors that could accelerate the path to a mass market of self-driving vehicles sooner than you might think.

1. Demand
People born in the mid-20th century clearly want to maintain their independence and mobility in their golden years. One Baby Boomer told me recently that he’d pay any amount of money to get an autonomous vehicle. Market demand this strong can be an amazingly powerful motivator for innovation.

2. Moore’s Law
The server-grade compute power and custom sensors powering most automakers’ self-driving car prototypes are far too expensive to be commercially viable today. But as processing power continues to double and yield a corresponding reduction in cost every four years—and as similar economies of scale and technical breakthroughs push down sensor and other component costs—the intelligence required for self-driving cars will become affordable.

3. Innovation
Intel® In-Vehicle Solutions offer automakers integrated platforms for quicker development of infotainment and safety features in the car. Increasing capabilities of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and other technologies will allow automobiles to start delivering narrower types of scenario-based self-driving experiences.

Rather than experiencing some sort of “Behold: the Self-Driving Car” moment, the field will evolve along a continuum of increasingly sophisticated ADAS features as vehicles inform, assist, and eventually assume control. Imagine, for example, an adaptive cruise control system that can receive, analyze, and react to data about road conditions a mile ahead. Icy conditions on the horizon? Your vehicle won’t just know about the problem—it will automatically shift to all-wheel-drive and notify you of the change in road conditions. It’s an exciting prospect, to be sure.

Read Intel’s viewpoint on the technology and computing requirements for self-driving cars, and watch a recent Fox Business report about In-Vehicle Solutions with my colleague Doug Davis.

About the Automotive Blog Series:
From in-vehicle infotainment to autonomous driving, Intel is using its proven expertise and R&D in computing technology, automotive systems, and consumer electronics to help automotive industry partners accelerate the evolution of connected, intelligent vehicles. This series is designed to offer the insights and observations of the Intel experts and engineers working to advance the next generation of driving experiences.

Comments are closed.