Audi company that is owned by Volkswagen Group has plans to manufacture the SAE level 3 cars to the end of 2017. The only big issue that must be solved before planning sales is changing the current legislation, including one on the international level. The latter is represented by 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic that currently does not have such notions as automated driving, driverless technology or its kinds, its definitions and scopes of application. As for changing the local legislation in Germany, Audi’s representative says it is the matter of weeks to pass through hearings in government’s upper chamber of parliament. The thing is that technology that is on the testing rails in the country made not only by Audi but also by other car brands and companies must be legally shifted from ‘test’ tryouts to the ‘regular’ official use of such cars on public roads. That is the reflection of the opinion of Audi’s CEO Rupert Stadler. He said about ‘legal safety’ of selling such cars to public owners and it must occur with the legislation’s change that must incorporate such things as Level 3 and Level 4 of driving process automation to start legal sales.
With the change of it, to empower the legal possession and usage of such self-driving vehicles, car manufacturer will be obliged to release a public offer fully explaining to its potential and existing customers what automation level is present in this or that model of sold car, how it is activated and deactivated, what functions does it carry and what is the human involvement in the engaged self-driving process. Also, the legislation will embrace the enforcement of carmakers to equip its vehicles having levels 3 and 4 with sort of black boxes that will record all cases of human driving and machine managing to make sure to distinguish between them when and if there’ll be a necessity to find out the information who or what drove a car during a road accident.
Under level 3, a person-driver will be able to switch on this option in the following circumstances:
• the sustainable speed must be below 37 mph (it will not work on higher speeds),
• there must be a highway with no other cars joining the traffic, thus, the road must be deprived of adjacent lanes taking new cars,
• the involvement of a driver will still be necessary in certain cases, so a computing machine installed in a car managing its driving process, will give somewhat between 8 and 10 seconds to a person inside the vehicle to estimate the road situation and to take the control over it when necessary.
This level of automation proclaims that a person will be potentially able to read a book or to use its tablet PC to read the news or do other jobs, and a car will only require human involvement in emergency situations that it won’t be able to handle.
The next level of automation with Nvidia company
Audi Q7 with Artificial Intelligence from Nvidia’s Xavier system on board was a hit of CES in April 2017. Xavier is an Artificial Intelligence core that has been developed by Nvidia’s team and its main significance is the ability to have the deep self-education based on the driving a car by a human person.
The system took only 4 days to educate itself to move in the unknown environment and to take own decisions on behavior not limiting itself only to the existing information on this environment. The other systems of AI present on CES-2017 took far more time to do the same. As of the moment, this is the most promising technology and the advancement of it is planned in 2020 with the Q7-alike car (Q7 was a demonstrated prototype) by Audi. The main restrictions for AI-based cars now are the limitations to the certain area and weather conditions while AI with algorithms having deep self-education manner (the same or better as was presented by Nvidia) is the main condition to have such vehicles on roads in the unknown terrains.
Nvidia has been working with Audi for 10 years on this and other topics, so their collaboration on this issue is not something new. In this project, Nvidia is a software and hardware provider to Audi carmaker.