Autonomous cars run on data, the better the data, the better the car will be able to see the world.
Bosch is looking to optimize its autonomous drive platform by integrating one of the hardest variables out there, the weather. With this new service, the German company wants to send weather and road conditions to autonomous vehicles to help them adapt and optimize their route selection.
We could see this on the roads as early as 2020. Bosch has partnered with Finnish company Foreca to deliver the hyper local weather information via the Bosch cloud. Data such as the current temperature, the current use of the windscreen wipers and the triggering of ABS and ASR from other vehicles in the area could also be collected and supplied. The weather reports will roll out first and will be followed the sensor data from the vehicles themselves to augment the information available in the cloud.
“Wet roads, snow, ice — with our predictive road-condition services, we alert to hazards before critical situations can develop. We are helped here by the weather data provided by our partner Foreca. This means an automated vehicle will know exactly where it can drive autonomously, and how,” says the Bosch management board member Dr. Dirk Hoheisel.
This also indirectly confirms that the new service will only be available for vehicles with manual steering capability (i.e. < level 4), so that the driver can intervene to correct when necessary.
What this actually means for the driver on the road is if you’re driving down a road and the encounters some ice under a tree or around a bridge, the car could detect a stability control intervention and compare it to the weather data. This information could be communicated to the Bosch cloud and other cars in the network would then be aware of the hazardous road conditions and pass over control to the driver around the specific area.
This service is urgently needed on the market. According to data from the FHA (Federal Highway Administration), 22% of every year in America are caused by poor weather conditions. The result is 6000 deaths a year. The combination of weather reports and real time data are necessary to be effective. It would be easy for the lidar to get confused between a wet and icy road, weather data would be necessary to help determine what is being seen by the car.
Since 2016 companies have been trying to get the most out of existing hardware found in cars. Researchers at the University of Michigan equipped Ford cars with high-resolution 3D technology that can actually detect deteriorating weather conditions and adapt driving behavior. Waymo also announced last year that he would send his test vehicles to Michigan. According to CEO John Krafcik, the aim is to check how their own sensors perform in wet and cold environments.
In a world in which (partially) automated vehicles make up an ever greater proportion of daily road traffic, the new system will increase reliability and safety.
Bosch Connected Mobility Network
Earlier this year Bosch launched a new connected mobility division at Bosch World, it includes connected services such as in car payments for electric charging, keys that can be stored on smartphones and in-car alerts for obstacles like wrong-way drivers. Vehicle to X connectivity will allow wireless connections to exchange information between vehicles and the surrounding infrastructure. This will lay the foundation for the data based assistants and services of tomorrow, without the need for internet.
The weather alerts for vehicles falls under the connected services umbrella. Connectivity makes vehicles part of the integrated mobility solutions that also include services. It demonstrates a meaningful use of the vehicle generated data. The same platform is enabling community based parking. Passing cars use sensors to detect open spaces and share that information with the cloud. Drivers in search of parking space benefit from this real time information.
The connected mobility division also includes vehicle sharing & ridesharing. “Connectivity will fundamentally change how we get from A to B, and in the process it will help to solve today’s traffic problems. We are using it to realize our vision of emissions-free, stress-free, and accident-free mobility,” said Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the Bosch board of management.
Connectivity offers tremendous business potential. By 2025, there will be more than 470 million connected vehicles on the world’s roads. We hope to see more examples like crowdsourced road conditions to improve safety on the roads.
To learn more about Bosch Connected Solutions please visit their website.