Two cars, one driver: New Skoda tech to make autonomous car follow a manned one
In another step towards autonomous driving, Skoda Auto has partnered with VSB - Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic, to develop new technologies for driving assistance systems.
The collaboration between the two parties involve a 'Follow the Vehicle' project that aims to have autonomous cars follow a manned lead vehicle. The technology, currently being tested on two correspondingly configured Skoda Superb iVs, has potential for car-sharing service providers, car rental companies or fleet operators.
The 'Follow the Vehicle' project follows the principle of 'two cars, one driver' where the lead vehicle is driven by a human, determining route, speed, lane and other parameters. The autonomous car follows the lead vehicle at a distance of up to ten metres. Data regarding steering input, acceleration and braking is transmitted to the self-driving car through radio.
At the beginning of the journey, both the test Skoda vehicles are provided with a digital pairing code. These test vehicles are equipped with state-of-the-art technology in the fields of smart city and intelligent transport systems. Car-to-X technology ensures communication between the test cars and other vehicles as well as with the traffic infrastructure. Data is exchanged among them via ETSI ITS-G5 - the standard for vehicular communication, and the 4G, LTE and 5G mobile networks.
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The Skoda Superb iVs get standard factory-installed as well as special sensors, radar, camera-based systems and a specially fitted communication unit for data processing. These allow the test cars to identify images, 3D objects and read a variety of different data such as the current location and driving-related parameters. The system monitors the car's surroundings and current traffic in real time.
Skoda remains committed towards developing autonomous vehicle technology. "Skoda's latest development showcases the current assistance systems' high technical standard and illustrates the opportunities these systems are capable of unlocking, especially when combined with other relevant technologies," says Christian Strube, Skoda Auto Board Member for Technical Development.