6 sep 18

Universal standards needed for AVs to communicate with human drivers

Volvo has called for all vehicle manufacturers to adopt a global standard for how autonomous vehicles will communicate with other drivers.

The Swedish car maker says the standard is necessary to ensure the safe introduction of self-driving cars while other human-driven cars are still on the road.

The absence of a driver from an autonomous vehicle denies other drivers the valuable communication of eye contact and gestures to signal a vehicle’s intentions.

How the 360c communicates

Volvo’s new 360c concept car features a range of external sounds, colours and visuals to signal the vehicle’s intentions to other road users. However, it will only ever communicate its own intentions and will never issue instructions to other drivers, which might cause confusion.

Malin Ekholm, vice president at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, said, “We strongly believe this communication method should be a universal standard, so all road users can communicate easily with any autonomous car, regardless of which maker built it.”

Changing the way we live 

The electric-powered 360c has the potential to change where employees choose to live and work, and to challenge short-haul flights as the best way to travel between cities, according to Volvo.

The concept car can be configured with a sleep pod (including a safety blanket that acts like a seatbelt), an office, living room and entertainment space. This would allow travel time to be used productively, rather than behind the wheel, enabling workers to live farther from their office.

Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Volvo Cars, said, “People becoming less reliant on proximity to cities is just one example of the impact of removing the burden of unproductive travel time.”

An airline rival?

Moreover, the door-to-door convenience of 360c travel makes it a rival to airline for flights of up to 300km, claims Volvo, suggesting the car is a quicker and more convenient form of transport than the time and trouble spent getting to and through airports.

“Domestic air travel sounds great when you buy your ticket, but it really isn’t. The 360c represents what could be a whole new take on the industry,” said Levenstam. “The sleeping cabin allows you to enjoy premium comfort and peaceful travel through the night and wake up refreshed at your destination. It could enable us to compete with the world’s leading aircraft makers.”

Authored by: Jonathan Manning