An insight into new automated driving experiences
In a recent discussion at Audi, we gained an insight into current progress in the area of automated driving, together with the technical and ethical questions and considerations explored during the development of this technology.
Automated driving is one of the main development fields that we’re pursuing at CARIAD. Among other things, we’re developing assisted and automated driving functions (up to SAE Level 4) for all of the Group’s passenger car brands.
In a recent insightful and inspiring conversation, Dr. Thomas Dahlem (Senior Director Development of Autonomous Driving at CARIAD), Dr. Essayed Bouzouraa (Head of Feature and Software Development ADAS/Automated Driving at CARIAD) and Professor Christoph Lütge from the Technical University of Munich, explored the current developments in the area of automated driving at Audi.
With a handful of specific examples, the three experts offered a glimpse into the future potential of this technology. Not only that, but they also explained the constant interplay between science and industry, discussed the extent to which traditional automotive engineering can be applied to automated driving technology, and highlighted the importance of going beyond the technical realm and considering societal and ethical aspects too.
Technical aspects and progress at Audi
Present-day vehicle development and design is undergoing a fundamental transformation as we look towards offering customers new software and data-driven experiences through various vehicle functions and capabilities.
One of the functions that we’re currently developing together with Audi is a highway pilot. This is a system that comes into play at Level 3 automated driving. At this level, drivers can opt to hand over the driving task to the system within defined limits in certain zones. After a given warning period, the driver must take over the steering wheel again. Until that point, the system is responsible.
As Essayed explains, "We design an AI driver by modelling an average driver. We already know that the highway pilot will be a relatively defensive driver. Ultimately, being driven should also enhance comfort and be enjoyable."
Societal and ethical considerations
But of course, it’s not just the technology itself that’s important. Societal and ethical considerations come into play too. Interdisciplinary networking and a shared understanding with drivers and passengers are crucial here.
Even before a function is developed, we need to identify how the vehicle will react to and behave in certain situations. But we also need to understand how the public will react to the vehicle. We need to communicate with drivers and the wider public to help them understand the capabilities and constraints of automated driving technology, and why the AI behaves in the way it does. Building trust and acceptance in this way are key to securing the success of this technology.
Even Essayed’s point about the highway pilot function and a model driver raises a few areas for consideration. Is there even such a thing as an average driver? Doesn’t this vary around the world, together with different road and infrastructure characteristics? How does an automated driving vehicle map the driving style of a particular geographical region?
To get a further insight into these questions and considerations in the area of automated driving technology, check out the full interview on the Audi blog: https://www.progress.audi/progress/en/glimpse-into-the-future-with-the-sphere-concept-vehicles.html