Automated driving systems are featured more and more in modern vehicles. As part of the @CITY joint project for autonomous driving in cities, the technology company Continental has achieved significant strides in its work on technologies for human-machine interaction, intelligent junctions, unique driving capabilities for inner-city intersections, and bottlenecks.

Important stakeholders contribute to @CITY project

15 businesses, academic institutions, and research centers participated in @CITY with funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection. One of automated driving most important areas is the mastery of urban traffic.

High-performance sensor technology, computing power, and a great deal of software skill are required to handle the often occurring, very complicated traffic conditions.

Automated driving systems: captivating Continental developments

“Continental has long since ceased to be a pure hardware supplier. There are already more than a billion cars on the road worldwide that are running on Continental software. We want to expand this,” says Gilles Mabire, Continental‘s Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

Automated driving systems in urban environments are getting closer

Until recently, when individuals spoke automated driving, they often meant highway- or highway-like assisted driving.

“Parked and narrow streets, cyclists and pedestrians who also use the roadway or cross it, traffic lights or roundabouts – in the city, traffic is many times more complex. Continental has brought together and further developed prototype technologies under defined boundary conditions that also enable automated driving in urban environments,” says Marc Simon, one of the project managers for @CITY at Continental.

The advancements made as a result of the collaborative initiative bring automated transportation to the city much more quickly.

This is made feasible, for instance, by combining information from outside sources with information from a car’s environmental sensors, such as the front camera, surround-view cameras, long- and short-range radars, and lidar. This enables the use of digital maps or weather and traffic data to further hone the vehicle’s “senses.”

Automated driving systems: captivating Continental developmentsThis gives the car’s electronics the ability to pinpoint the car’s location, for instance, without the aid of outside sources like a GPS, which is a need for reacting effectively in perilous or uncertain circumstances.

An autonomous car, however, also has to be aware of the exact positions of all other road users around it, particularly bicycles and pedestrians. Continental has created an infrastructure sensor idea that can identify weaker road users even when they come into contact with other things, such as a parked truck or an advertising pillar, as an extra technological pillar.

This entails adding more sensor equipment to numb, hazy urban crossroads like intersections, which alerts the car through radio technology of oncoming traffic. This action greatly increases safety, particularly in hazy circumstances. These systems’ prototypes are now being tested in Frankfurt on routine car journeys.

Cyclists and pedestrians benefit from more safety

Another difficulty is the frequent interactions between drivers of passenger cars and bicycles and pedestrians on the road. Machines must also be able to perceive and comprehend human gestures, such as when a cyclist extends their arm to signal a turn. For this objective, the project constructed and “learned” the required software.

Continental used a variety of techniques for this in @CITY, including artificial intelligence and neural networks.

“It is crucial for automated driving to train and validate the algorithms,” says CTO Gilles Mabire.

Automated driving systems: captivating Continental developmentsOther road users’ gestures must also be detected, and the autonomous vehicle’s intentions must be clear. Therefore, Continental has improved both the internal and exterior human-machine interaction (HMI). Thus, the car can communicate with both the outside world and the driver inside. Light signals coming from an exterior light strip are used to accomplish this.

“The automated vehicle thus signals, for example, that it will stop for a pedestrian. At the same time, this information is also communicated to the passengers in the automated vehicle so that they can understand the reason for braking,” says Stephan Cieler, who is responsible for Continental’s research on human-machine interfaces as part of @CITY.

Two simulators created as part of the research demonstrate the practical use of this technology.

The simulators have been shown at the testing center in Aldenhoven on June 22 and 23, 2022, together with other Continental inventions and other research findings from the collaborative project @CITY.

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