*This Editor’s Note will appear in the July/August Edition of ECN.
Mobility (the ability to move, not something related to a cellphone) is usually marked with major milestones. Your first steps, the first time you ride a bike, or the first time you get behind the wheel are all rites of passage. The next big milepost for most drivers will be when you can keep your hands off the wheel.
While self-driving cars aren’t parked in everyone’s garage or driveway, autonomous technology has infiltrated our vehicles. Autonomous technology has been broken down into five levels by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE):
- Level 0 has no sustained vehicle control.
- Level 1 can be described as hands on and involves the driver and car sharing control of car. (Think, adaptive cruise control, lane departure correction, and parking assistance)
- Level 2 has the car take over acceleration, braking, and steering, allowing the driver to keep their hands off the wheel, while being ready to intervene when needed.
- Level 3 offers the ability to take your eyes off the road and participate in other activities like texting or watching a video.
- Level 4 takes it a step further and allows the driver to fall asleep or leave the driver’s seat all together.
- Level 5 is fully autonomous and doesn’t require a steering wheel at all.
So far, level 1 technology is becoming fairly commonplace. I’ve already experienced my car break automatically when I’ve gotten too close to the vehicle in front of me or steered me back into my lane when I’ve drifted a little. We have all seen the headlines of autonomous vehicles (AVs) being tested with less than favorable results—a reminder that we are still at least a few years away from the self-driving car being the dominant mode of transportation.
Automakers and component manufacturers are working furiously to make fully autonomous vehicles a reality in the not-too-distant future. In fact, it’s the focus of this issue. “Sensors for Navigation in Autonomous Vehicles—The Importance of IMU Technology,” by Mike Horton, on p. 5 asserts that inertial measurement unit sensors are the missing puzzle piece to solving positioning challenges in autonomous technology. Autonomous technology is also front and center on p. 18 in “FIR Sensors Are the Future of Autonomous Vehicle Technology,” by Yakov Shaharabani, which explains how a new type of sensor using far infrared technology can improve safety for self-driving cars.
Be sure to take a look at “Combination IDC and Press-Fit Contacts Satisfy Current and Future Automotive Application Demands,” by Tom Anderson, on p.10, which discusses enhancing the reliability for connectors in vehicles. Rounding out our features on p. 14, is “An Inside Look at the Automotive Ethernet Protocol,” by David Maliniak, which centers around the data communication protocol for in-vehicle networking.