Bosch tests automatic driving on the Autobahn

May 10, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
If you happen to see a driver on the German Autobahn these days with no hands at the wheel, don't panic: Automotive electronics supplier Bosch is currently conducting extensive tests of automated vehicles on public roads in Germany. The purpose of these tests is assessing and further improving the technology for automatic driving in everyday driving situations.

On the road to fully autonomous driving, Bosch regards automated driving on motorways as the first step, since on motorways the virtual drivers does not need to expect oncoming traffic nor crossing traffic. Likewise, there is no need to deal with pedestrians. The driving manoeuvres are controlled by a lane departure warning system and a lane changing assistant; both are directly connected to the steering mechanism. A radar-based adaptive cruise control (ACC) and a speed pilot control the lateral movement. Radar and video sensors generate a 360-degree situation image around the vehicle.

While these assistants can autonomously control and direct the vehicle in most standard situations, a human driver constantly needs to monitor the system and can intervene at any time. For the tests, only trained drivers are admitted who have extended and precise knowledge of the system functions. Currently, a double-digit number of such vehicles is cruising on German motorways. Safety certification services provider TÜV Süd attested that Bosch's concept is safe enough to test it on public roads including the high-speed Autobahn.

The insights gained from the test will be fed into the development of more sophisticated driving functions. An example of a next-generation driver assistance system with a higher degree of automation will be the "Traffic Congestion Pilot" which steers and controls the vehicle during stop-and-go driving at slow speeds.