PSA plans 'hands off' self-driving cars after 2020


PSA Group says it is committed to developing Level 3 autonomous driving, which allows hands-off capability but requires the driver to take back control at any time, even as some automakers say they will move directly to Levels 4 and 5, which give the car full autonomy.
The handoff time from vehicle to driver has emerged as a central issue in Level 3, because automakers will have to meet International Organization for Standardization guidelines that require proof that the likelihood of a technical failure is no greater than one in a million. Ford and Volvo have said they will not offer Level 3 vehicles.
PSA tested a self-driving car in different conditions to see if the driver is able to take back control, even if he or she has moved the seat. The company is satisfied with the results, said Cedric Vivien, the automaker’s director of innovation for autonomous and connected cars.
PSA will continue with plans for Level 3 features “for development, and also to learn from our customers to improve the systems in the future,” Vivien said. He was speaking on the sidelines of a press event here on June 23 highlighting the company’s autonomous technology.
At the event, PSA formally released its strategy for introducing autonomous driving, which the company calls Autonomous Vehicle for All, starting with Level 1, or “hands on” features including adaptive cruise control and lane positioning. Level 1 autonomy features, defined as “driver assistance,” by the engineer’s group SAE International, include adaptive cruise control, active braking and lane-keeping assistance. They are available on models including the Peugeot 208 and 308 hatchbacks, and 2008 and 3008 crossovers.
DS first
Level 2, or “hands off,” will be offered after 2018, first on the DS 7 Crossback, then shortly afterward on other DS cars, as well as Peugeot and Citroen models. Level 2 automation will include automated parking and Connected Pilot, which monitors the car’s position within its lane and relative to other vehicles.
Level 3 “hands off” features will appear in 2020 on the assumption that regulations are changed to allow that to happen. PSA would first allow what it calls “chauffeur” autonomy in traffic-jam situations, followed by highway autonomy in which the car drives in autonomous mode whatever the traffic conditions.
That will be followed after 2025 by Level 4 (“mind off”) and Level 5 (“driverless”) autonomy.
PSA said it is still evaluating self-driving features for the Opel/Vauxhall brands, which it is in the process of acquiring from General Motors.
PSA has been testing a fleet of 20 self-driving prototypes, and was the first French manufacturer to conduct on-road testing, in July 2015. To date, the company says, the prototypes have covered 125,000 km on European roads, with experts and, starting in March, non-experts at the controls.
‘Electronic architecture’
PSA ranked 11th among 18 automakers, top suppliers and tech companies this year in Navigant Research’s recent “Leaderboard Report” on autonomous driving. Navigant said PSA had been held back as it worked out financial problems after the recent recession but was now on more solid financial footing and “ready to move forward and roll out more advanced technology.”
That technology will be supported by what PSA calls its New Electronic Architecture, a modular and scalable system of sensors like radar and lidar and microprocessors. The architecture will first appear in 2020 on PSA’s EMP2 platform, used for compact and midsize vehicles such as the DS 7 Crossback, Peugeot 5008 and Citroen DS 5 Aircross SUVs.
The system, which PSA says can process 10 times more data than the current architecture, will have data protection and cyber security features built in, allowing customers to perform some maintenance operations and gain access to new services without going to a dealer. Software updates would be transmitted automatically, as new driving algorithms are developed.
Redundancy and backup will be provided by dual electric systems and batteries, and sensors will use different technologies to verify the accuracy of information they receive.
Liability concerns
Another pressing issue has been accident liability when cars are in autonomous mode. Some automakers, including Volvo, have pledged that they will take full responsibility. PSA is taking a more measured approach, saying it supports efforts by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, or UNECE, to develop a “black box” event data recorder for autonomous driving that could determine who was in control at the time of an accident.
PSA says it is working with insurance companies to bring about “much needed changes” to coverage for owners. “I think it’s a question of insurance, it’s not a question of responsibility,” said Jean-Francois Huere, PSA’s director of public affairs for autonomous driving and mobility. “The cars that we launch will be insured, so there’s no problem in compensating the victims.”
Fuente: Automotive News