Robesafe Group. Department of Electronics. University of Alcalá. Polytechnic School. Campus Universitario Ctra. de Madrid-Barcelona, Km. 33,600 28871 Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) – Spain. (www.robesafe.uah.es/)
GROBIS Group. Departamento de Ingeniería de Sistemas y Automática. Universidad de Vigo. Industrial Engineering School. Rúa Maxwell, s/n. Campus Universitario Lagoas-Marcosende 36310 Vigo, Pontevedra. Spain. (http://webs.uvigo.es/vigobot/)
Project funding by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Ref: UAH: TRA2015-70501-C2-1-R (2016-2018), UVIGO: TRA2015-70501-C2-2-R (2016-2018)
Statistics show that 68% of the population in the European Union (EU), including associated states, is living in urban areas. According to the World Health Organization, nearly one third of the world population will live in cities by 2030. Aware of this problem, the Transport White Paper published by the European Commission in 2011 indicated that new forms of mobility should be proposed to provide sustainable solutions for people and goods safely. Regarding safety, it sets the ambitious goal of halving the overall number of road deaths in the EU between 2010-2020. However, the goal will not be easy, only in 2014 more than 25,700 people died on the roads in the EU (18% reduction). Besides, some studies show that fatal accidents increase with age for people 65 years and older.
Autonomous driving is considered as one of the solutions to the before mentioned problems and one of the great challenges of the automotive industry today. The existence of reliable and economically affordable autonomous vehicles will create a huge impact on society affecting environmental, demographic, social and economic aspects. In particular, it is estimated to cause a reduction in road deaths, improved traffic flow, reduced fuel consumption and harmful emissions associated, as well as an improvement in the overall driver comfort and mobility in groups with impaired faculties, like the elderly or disabled people.
Autonomous driving has attracted much attention recently by the research groups and industry, due to the billboards of various companies on expectations of market entry. However, his predictions seem to be very optimistic. A more scientific organization, such as IEEE, has recently predicted that by 2040 the majority of vehicles traveling on highways will be autonomous. Driving in urban environments will take longer, due to its complexity and uncertainty.
With this background, this project will focus on the research in technologies for the development of an autonomous electric car to assist the elderly population in predominantly urban environments. The proposal is disruptive because it raises new techniques applied on a future electric car, where Spain is an international reference, and targeted to a sector of the population with growing needs. The proposed system is based on the most advanced techniques of sensory perception and in-vehicle mapping, control and path planning in dynamic and changing environments.
A sensor fusion architecture based primarily on computer vision, laser and GPS technologies will be developed. The architecture will allow the mapping of the environment, the semantic classification of the scene and the real-time detection of obstacles in the path. This, together with vehicle positioning technology based on digital maps, will establish the planning and control algorithms to carry out the independent movement of the vehicle from a source to a destination provided by the user. Additionally, a study of the behavior of senior drivers will take place, to identify shortcomings and limitations, and develop a customized HMI.