Software Development for Self Driving Cars
Information technologies reached into all spheres of our life and changed them beyond recognition. Well, who could have ever predicted that a regular phone will get rid of the wires and, then, become an indispensable mobile assistant, that can replace a dozen different devices? Something similar is happening with the cars now.
Perhaps it is not too noticeable at the moment, but we are on the verge of the great automotive revolution that will radically change the concept of a 4-wheel vehicle. It is only a matter of time until today’s cars will look much the same as the first cars, descended from conveyors of Ford plant in 1908’.
In this article, we want to speak about some promising automotive technologies and best practices in the field of self driving cars software development. Some of them have already been introduced into production, while others exist only on the paper. We are focusing, primarily, on the IT solutions for driverless cars, leaving everything like vehicle motor, chassis, and car gears behind.
Autonomous Cars and Its Software Solutions
Currently, there is no established terminology and even the common name for a smart cars of the future. But more often they are called “connected or autonomous cars”. This implies a full integration of electronics in all car components, as well as a constant high-speed connection to the Internet for data exchange. Typically, such a vehicle has a central processing unit that provides a variety of different functions.
But still, there is no consensus about what operating system to use in the autonomous cars. Couple years ago Google has announced the creation of an Open Automotive Alliance in collaboration with Audi, General Motors, Honda and Hyundai. This alliance aims to develop software for driverless cars based on the Android OS. Meanwhile, in 2014 Apple presented their own product called CarPlay. Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have announced the imminent release of their cars with its full support.
Microsoft Projects look much less promising. Although work on the Windows Embedded Automotive has begun before any of competitors’ projects and proceeded in collaboration with Ford, it hasn’t become common. Let's see now, what is a “smart car” today and what ideas driverless cars software developers tend to implement in the very near future.
A lot of companies have succeeded in the self driving cars development. However, does this mean that we will soon be able to get into the car, tell the autopilot where to go and quietly read the newspaper until the arrival? Unfortunately no. Or rather, not yet.
Fully automatic mode of operation is too challenging, with which software can deal only in particular circumstances. In the urban environment saturated with traffic, far from being ideal roads and unpredictable drivers, it’s too early to rely on the autopilot. Here, the main task faced by driverless cars software developers is to make the product that will adapt to external environmental factors as quickly as possible.
With that in mind developers start to implement a lot of ideas connected with road warning systems, traffic signs identification and notification, automatic parking and so on. In other words, the equipment yet is acting as a driver's useful assistant, performing separate operations. But every year systems become more sophisticated, that gives us the right to say that very soon the driver will find himself in the role of car assistant.
Today one can not be surprised by navigation systems which are able of finding a way to the most remote places on the planet. However, future navigators that are learning to communicate with other systems, will look completely different.
As for the self driving cars software here new navigation systems will be able to collect data on the common driver routes and anticipate his wishes. For example, if you drive to work every morning, pick up your children from school in the afternoon and on Fridays’ evenings go to the gym, the navigation system will remember your route and will be prepared for the trip in advance.
That means system will get a weather forecast, road report, compose the best route and even put driver’s favorite music on. All necessary information will be displayed directly on the windshield of the vehicle in the way it is done in the military jets now.
Another global trend of the self driving cars software development is the integration of navigation systems into a common information field. The vehicles will be able to obtain information not only from satellites, but also from other cars and even city infrastructure.
For example, before car approaches traffic lights, automotive software system will be aware of its operation, as well as of the number (and speed) of vehicles traveling ahead. After processing these data, the navigator can easily advise the correct mode of movement to a driver.
No less interesting is the active safety systems that are being implemented today. For example, BMW's Emergency Stop Assistant is able to keep track of a surrounding traffic situation with the help of sensors and avoid unexpected danger. In the case of a traffic accident, it can immediately call the emergency services.
Today’s cars are so complex mechanisms that electronics has been engaged in tracking the state of all its various parts. There is no secret that today vehicle software system can suggest driver to change oil or filters when it’s time.
But self driving cars software of the future will be able to carefully monitor the driver's body condition and its state. With the help of heart rate monitor installed to a steering wheel system will track the health, blinks sensor on the rear view mirror will allow not to fall asleep and breathe analyzer won’t leave any chance for those who is too drunk to drive.
If the system decides that driver’s condition does not allow him to drive a car, it just will block the engine. And if driver will get sick during the journey, system will turn on the autopilot, that will gently park car on the curb.
Anti-theft systems are developed rapidly too. If we pack our car with different sensors, then why not to build one that will be responsible for the authorization processes.
In order to open car and start the engine, key (in its physical sense) is no longer needed. It will be enough to have a smartphone in the pocket, which will be able to open the car. If driver wants to give an access to someone else, he just mails the key and the person gets an access.
The security system works not only the smartphone, but also in the car. It is not enough to hack the phone to get into the car. Emailed key also can not be intercepted, because data go through the cloud server, not directly to a car hardware. Anyone who is not the authorized recipient, would not be able to receive an electronic key.
Some self-driving car software companies tend to imply the retina scanner for process of identification, while others are on the Apple’s footsteps and tending to use fingerprints. The important thing is that now no hacker will be able to open and start car. And if you want to entrust the car control to another person, then you just need to add his data to the car onboard system, the same way you do when create another user profile on your PC.
In this area, computer technology insight looks most organic. Thanks to high-speed access to a network smart cars turn into real entertainment centers, offering its passengers the opportunity to watch videos, listen to music, surf the Internet, chat with friends. For example, Volvo and Ericsson joint project, today, offers us the following features in the entertainment area:
Sensus Connect Multimedia System, which supports all popular formats;
Remote updating of a multimedia system. The car software system updates exactly the same as you get a new software update for your smartphone.
Bluetooth-connection in the vehicle with the help of which driver answers calls without being distracted from the road.
Siri-based voice control - from the "Play my favorite song" to "Find the nearest petrol station”.
Special mobile applications to control some functions of the car using a smartphone.
This is just an example of the car multimedia software features that are available today. There is still room for perfection – for smart car developers and software development companies.
Autonomous Cars Software Groundwork
As you can see, the future of these cars isn’t a fiction, it’s real. Now more and more often we hear that self driving cars will replace today’s vehicles and it is inevitable. The question is how fast we will adapt to a new reality providing the infrastructure software for this technology. It is self driving cars development that can be our chance - to discover and develop new industry. The future, is not so far and we need to be ready for it.
We know what we are talking about, cause specific area of our activity is custom IT products development for the automotive companies. You can check all our successful cases on this page: Automotive Solutions.
Contact us and you will get more information about software development for self driving cars. firstname.lastname@example.org.