Page 19 - Commercial Vehicle Engineer - September 2021
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VAN DEVELOPMENTS
But it isn’t just autonomous trucks being developed, there have been significant developments with vans this year. In February, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles announced its plans to start testing prototypes of its autonomous ID. BUZZ van, which has level 4 autonomous capacity, in Munich this year.
“Our aim with the self-driving version of the ID. BUZZ is to facilitate commercial deployment of transport and delivery services starting in 2025,” explained Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles divisional director Christian Senger. “In select cities, customers will be able to have a self-driving vehicle take them to their destination. The delivery of goods and packages will also be made much easier through our autonomous driving service.”
For the integration of the technology into the all-electric ID. BUZZ AD, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has founded a dedicated business section and partnered with Argo AI, a US- headquartered autonomous vehicle technology platform company that is developing the self-driving system.
Earlier this year, Argo AI integrated its self-driving system with a Volkswagen vehicle prototype to begin testing in Germany.
Volkswagen and Argo AI regard the use of a combination of sensors – including lidar, radar and cameras – essential for safe autonomous driving capability.
Argo AI recently unveiled its new lidar sensor, Argo Lidar, which allows it to see objects from 400 metres away. Argo AI’s proprietary Geiger-mode lidar can detect the smallest particle of light — a single photon — which is key to sensing objects with low reflectivity. “This technology will be integrated in the self-driving system
of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ autonomous driving vehicles,” says Brian Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI.
VEHICLE CONVERSION
Another company to develop an autonomous van this year has been Fusion
Volkswagen's autonomous ID. BUZZ AD
Processing, a manufacturer and designer of autonomous vehicles based in Bristol. In March, the company announced it had converted a long wheelbase Fiat Ducato crew van to Level 4 autonomy.
The vehicle has been equipped with Fusion’s CAVstar Automated Drive System (ADS), the AI control and sensor system that is utilised in a fleet of five autonomous buses for the ongoing Project CAVForth.
Fusion’s CAVstar ADS is designed
for autonomous driving Levels 4 and 5. To operate safely at Level 4 the system employs redundant steering and braking systems that are called into action in the highly unlikely event that the primary systems fail. Fusion’s engineers ensure that all their vehicles meet the relevant international safety standards.
Project CAVForth is run by a consortium of companies, headed up
by Fusion and including bus operator Stagecoach, bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland. The consortium members have been working together since the start of 2019 to
create what is claimed to be the world’s most advanced passenger service using autonomous buses in Scotland. This was covered in-depth in the April 2020 issue of CVE.
“The Ducato now has a full sensor suite fitted including radar, lidar and cameras, with overlapping field of view,” explains
Jim Hutchinson, CEO of Fusion. “The vehicle is also equipped with a GNSS, and a system that communicates with traffic lights. All these systems are connected
to our Central Control Unit that allows
the vehicle to determine where it is and understand its immediate surroundings including the positions and identification of objects around it and how other vehicles and vulnerable road users are moving.
“This information together with a map allows it to calculate a safe path to its destination and control the vehicle actuators to enable a smooth ride.
The CAVstar system also connects to the vehicle’s throttle, braking and steering systems, and secondary braking and steering systems were also fitted to build in redundancy, in the unlikely event the primary systems fail. With secondary braking and steering systems and CAVstar fitted, the vehicle now has the capability to operate at
AV Level 4.”
The conversion process was relatively straightforward, Hutchinson adds. The conversion process involving fitting the secondary braking, steering and CAVstar control and sensing system took around four weeks from strip down to beginning fine tuning,” he says. “However, as this was the first time we’d ever done the process on this vehicle type, so the next few will be much quicker as the process is refined.”
AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES
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