Highly automated driving in real traffic on the German motorway is moving closer to reality thanks to research and development carried out by Opel. The German carmaker is part of “Ko-HAF – Kooperatives hochautomatisiertes Fahren”, a German project researching cooperative highly automated driving which presented its half-term results on May 18 in Aschaffenburg, Germany. Ko-HAF began in June 2015 and will end in November 2018.
Cooperative, highly automated driving systems do not need to be continuously monitored by the driver. Drivers can perform other tasks, but when prompted by the system they must be able to recover control of the vehicle within a certain time period. The vehicle must therefore be able to “see” further ahead than possible with its own sensors. This is where Ko-HAF comes in; vehicles send information about their current road environment, such as construction sites, traffic jams and accidents, to the Safety Server. The information is collected and compressed by the Safety Server, so that a precise map is available to vehicles when they request it – like an artificial horizon that delivers a highly detailed preview of the road ahead.
Opel’s role in Ko-HAF focuses on the computerized maps and the process of disengaging the car from the automated driving condition, thus returning control to the driver. The engineers from Rüsselsheim have designed the architecture, interfaces and protocols of the Safety Server, which are currently being tested in the project.
An additional core-task has been the development of a self-localization process for the vehicle. Opel has designed algorithms for visual mapping and localization which are then merged with information from back-end and onboard maps, movement sensors and the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). The localization process is being validated on an Opel Insignia test car at the Opel Test Center and on the Ko-HAF test route on the motorways around Frankfurt am Main.
Opel’s second area of focus concerns the driver’s actions. The company’s engineers have developed software and a system of sensors to detect and classify the driver’s actions while the car is driving automatically.
Opel is building a prototype that can display the essential functions of cooperative highly automated driving on the motorway; for example, automatically entering the motorway and merging with the traffic, driving on the motorway including overtaking, and finally exiting the motorway automatically. A demonstration of the Opel prototype in real motorway traffic is planned at the final presentation of Ko-HAF in September 2018.
Due to the complexity of the advanced driver assistance systems needed for cooperative highly automated driving, the number of kilometers required for validation in real life testing would rise to unfeasible levels. Opel is therefore developing a new test strategy which will replace real life testing with simulations as much as possible.