French automaker Renault has announced that its highly advanced autonomous vehicle control system can avoid road obstacles as efficiently as professional drivers. The French auto company has revealed that it drew inspiration from the experienced human drivers' abilities while designing its autonomous system and using these as benchmark to test the technology’s performance ability.
While commenting on this development, the director of the Renault Open Innovation Laboratoty, Simon Hougard wrote to a journal that despite the general belief, in reality the human drivers are really remarkable with less than one fatality per 100,000,000 kilometers in most of the developed nations. He added by saying that reaching this benchmark and even exceeding it is highly essential to enhance road safety and actually realize the dreams of fully autonomous vehicles, offering convenience and more productivity during the daily commutes and automated vehicle services in the cities.
This new autonomous vehicle technology is the result of the collaboration between Renault and Stanford University Dynamic Design Lab Director Chris Gerdes. Gerdes is also a former US Department of Transportation Chief Innovation Officer. According to Renault, this technology will help the company to reach its goal to become one of the first auto manufacturing companies to present the highly intelligent and efficient autonomous technology in the global market.
For the time being, details are very few about how exactly the new technology from Renault works and how accurate it is. It is also not known as yet, as to what speeds this autonomous system can maintain efficiently detect and avoid colliding with obstacles on the road. However, in a demo the technology was seen working at speeds levels of below 30 mile per hour. This exciting obstacle dodging capabilities of the new autonomous system, were tested in new Renault Zoe autonomous car’s prototype model, which has been named as Callie.
While this may sound exciting for the time being, the obstacle avoidance capability has to be an integral part of any fully autonomous car technology, as without this capability no autonomous car can actually run on the real-world roads without the intervention of a human driver, in which case the very term ‘driver-less car’ would be meaningless. The efficiency of using spontaneous judgments as per changing driving situations and quick obstacle avoiding capabilities are what make the human drivers irreplaceable till date, no matter how irresponsible they can be at times. While the artificial intelligence and smart technologies of the current times are accurate and safe, they don’t have the high level spontaneity of the human beings, and thus, the autonomous cars might run the risk of shutting down in challenging driving situations.
Nevertheless, tech giants and global auto majors are all working tirelessly to bring in the ultimate fully autonomous cars that won’t only be able to run on empty stretches on highways, but also on the congested and challenging urban roads without the intervention of human drivers.
Renault has said that its autonomous system is still underway, but it is expected to be utilized in 15 Renault models and 40 models under the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which the company hopes to offer to the global industry by 2022.