Inching Toward Autonomous Driving With a Tech Preview From Bosch
We’re all bracing ourselves for the brave new autonomous future, and the global Tier I supplier network is cutting its teeth on autonomous driving aids by rolling out “lite” versions or constituent elements that promise to make driving simpler between now and the time that book-reading, cat-napping personal-vehicle travel arrives. Bosch demonstrated several such features recently at its Flat Rock, Michigan proving grounds.
Home Zone Park Assist
We’ve seen the BMW 7 Series‘ remote control self-parking system (now available on 2017 740 and 750 models), which allows you to use the key fob remote from outside the car to direct it into and out of a tight parking space or garage. This system is believed to be supplied by Bosch, but the company is not admitting as much. In any case, the concept presented here takes that one quite a few steps further.
Let’s say you have a long winding driveway with a detached garage located at some distance from the house. Wouldn’t it be nice to get out, unload the groceries, and tell the car to go park itself? With Home Zone Park Assist, you connect a cell phone and app to the car (via Bluetooth or WiFi), then “teach” the car the way from the kitchen/side-door entrance to its parking spot in the garage. Then, next time you park in roughly the same spot, open the app, and direct the car to park itself. It will only move at a maximum speed of 3 mph (5 km/h), and only as long as your finger remains in contact with the parking button on the cell phone screen. The “driver” is supposed to maintain visual contact with the car at all times, but the car’s 12 ultrasonic sensors and its cameras are keeping an eye out for obstacles. If something has blocked its path prior to reaching the “learned” parking spot, a notification shows up on the cell phone screen. The app allows up to 10 parking maneuvers to be learned. The phone will need to connect to the remote key fob also, so that the car can be started and remotely retrieved without the key onboard. The goal is to have the system work from a distance of just over 300 feet. The system is targeted for a 2018 production rollout.
Trailer Hitch Guidance
We’ve seen systems that help you back up a trailer using only a control knob or even a tablet or phone, but to date they’ve all required you to attach the trailer manually (perhaps using the reverse camera to help). This Bosch concept allows you to pull within 12 feet or so in front of the trailer, aligned within 15 degrees of the trailer, and then identify the location of the trailer’s coupler by touching it on the screen. You then just touch a button, engage reverse, operate the gas and brake pedals, and allow the vehicle to steer itself into perfect alignment with the trailer. At about 2 feet away, the screen switches to a direct-overhead camera view so that you can stop when the coupler is directly above the ball. Bosch has not announced a production horizon, but this software application can be easily added to any vehicle with electric power steering and a megapixel rear-view camera.
3D Surround View Multi-Camera System
Total situational awareness is key to autonomous driving, so we can expect cameras to up their game a ton, as is demonstrated here. Bosch’s latest riff on the bird’s-eye view concept employs four 1.2-megapixel fisheye cameras, all of which are mounted vertically and can see a 190-degree field of viewâmost current side cameras are located beneath the side-view mirrors. What’s more, the cameras are talking to 12 fifth-generation ultrasonic sensors. These images are all photo-stitched together and blended with vehicle surface info that fills in areas the cameras can’t see. This allows the system to start out with the traditional bird’s-eye two-dimensional overhead shot, then if an ultrasonic sensor notices that you’re approaching an obstacle, it automatically switches to a view that better illustrates the potential problem and adds colored blocks near where the sensors detect the obstruction. When nearing a curb, it’ll highlight that area and color the wheel orange to help avoid wheel rash. You can also order a wide-angle view of front or rear cross traffic when pulling out of a blind alley, and you can get an interesting rear three-quarter view of the car. The image can also overlay lines indicating where the wheels will travel when you’re moving, and when you engage park it indicates the swing of the doors. The hardware is all available, so there’s not much delaying full implementation of this system.
Low-Speed Rear Automatic Emergency Braking System and Object Detection
Automated cars will need to “see” things in the dark, especially when maneuvering in tight quarters. This demonstration really highlighted Bosch’s sixth-generation ultrasonic sensors a technology, which will enable this capability. These units use longer, more powerful sound pulses that make them considerably more sensitive and able to detect small, low-reflectivity objects, fast moving objects, and things that are as close as 1.2 inches away and as far as 12-18 feet (that’s up from 3-10 feet on a previous system, for pedestrians and hard objects). What’s more, they’re better at keeping track of an object while the vehicle is moving away from itâuseful if the situation calls for the car to move backward and forward, so it doesn’t have to keep “discovering” objects anew each time the car changes direction. The system incorporates automatic emergency braking that can stop the car however close an OE manufacturer cares to come to an object. Production is anticipated for the 2019 model year.