Since the 1990s, a time when autonomous driving still sounded like science fiction, engineers and technicians from various automobile groups have been working on driver assistance systems. In the next decade, the automotive industry will change more than in the last 30 years, since today we are already at the dawn of highly automated driving. And in those, despite all the difficulties, Spain is searching for regularize level 3.
The race for autonomous driving in Spain
Autonomous driving is one of the most popular fronts in the automotive industry. The electric car has slightly defocused the attention of the manufacturers, but of which this is still one of the main foci.
A technology career which largely depends on infrastructures to be fully relevant. In these, the truth is that Spain does not lead nor is it among the best prepared countries, but the current commitment of our country is to be able to establish some bases so that it is regularized.
The autonomy of this type of car is measured from level zero, in which the driver does all the tasks, to level five, in which the vehicle can do without the person and drives itself. Currently, in Spain they are only allowed to circulate on public roads cars with a level two, a degree to which vehicles have a driver assistant that can control both lateral and longitudinal movement, but the car is not trained to respond to unforeseen obstacles. But now it seeks to go one step further to continue up to level 3.
Level 3 could arrive in 2023
«Our aspiration is to have a regulation from level 3 of autonomy in a within a year and a half, in 2023«. This is what José Ordás, who is deputy director general of Mobility and Technology Management at the DGT, said during the presentation of the first report on autonomous and connected vehicles, promoted by the Spanish automobile manufacturers’ association, Anfac.
In this way, the DGT explains that the deadlines to reach a Royal Decree should not be shortened “to give legal certainty to companies”, since it must be taken into account that “since the draft is available, consultations are carried out public authorities passes through the Council of State until it materializes in a Royal Decree, a minimum of one year passes.
All in all, what the road body aspires to is to have a regulatory text in six months in order to launch the legislative process that allows the circulation of vehicles with a greater degree of autonomy. Once regulated (a process that the DGT estimates will take about 18 months), Ordás expects grade four or even five autonomous cars to be enabled. But, what is this level 3 of autonomous driving that Spain thinks about?
What will happen with this greater degree of autonomy
But let’s go by parts. We are talking about an autonomous vehicle like the one that brings together the sensors, processors, actuators and software necessary to conduct themselves autonomously and that, although a priori it still seems strange to us, little by little these will become part of our common lives.
Counting on different levels, we have to say that he can be the fully autonomous driving car it will still take time to arrivenot only because of the complexity of developing it within the technological framework, but also because its arrival represents a complete paradigm shift in driving: new laws and even a new philosophy of car use.
Now, in countries like Spain we find the second degree of autonomy, where the vehicle can park or unpark on its own, automatically change lanes, brake if there is an emergency or a pedestrian crosses. Therefore, this new level is about going a little further whereby the system performs all aspects of driving, but the driver must respond appropriately to a intervention request.
Namely; that the car already drives itself, but the driver will have to intervene in a situation where the system does not know how to respond appropriately. The person must also take control of the vehicle if there is a technical fault. We can therefore say that the car is autonomous but the last responsibility falls on the driver. These are his points:
- A driver is required and although the autonomy is higher, he must be attentive to to intervene.
- It has automation systems regarding longitudinal and lateral movement control; detection and response before objects.
- The car will be able to decide when change lanesbraking to avoid colliding with another vehicle, for example, but the human factor will continue to be key since the system may require their intervention.