Volvo Car Group Tests Road Magnets for Accurate Positioning of Self-driving Cars
ROCKLEIGH, N.J. (March 11, 2014) - Volvo Car Group has completed a research project using magnets in the roadway to help the car determine its position. The research, which has been financed in strategic co-operation with the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), is a potential key to the implementation of self-driving vehicles.
Reliable and highly accurate positioning is one of the crucial issues in the development of self-driving cars.
While established positioning technologies such as GPS and cameras have limitations in certain conditions, road-integrated magnets remain unaffected by physical obstacles and poor weather conditions.
“The magnets create an invisible ‘railway’ that literally paves the way for a positioning inaccuracy of less than one decimeter. We have tested the technology at a variety of speeds and the results so far are promising,” says Jonas Ekmark, preventive safety leader at Volvo Car Group.
Volvo Cars plays a leading role in a large-scale autonomous driving pilot project in which 100 self-driving Volvo cars will use public roads in everyday driving conditions around the Swedish city of Gothenburg.
“Our aim is for the car to be able to handle the driving all by itself. Accurate, reliable positioning is a necessary prerequisite for a self-driving car,” explains Ekmark. He adds: “It is fully possible to implement autonomous vehicles without changes to the present infrastructure. However, this technology adds interesting possibilities, such as complementing road markings with magnets.”
Helps prevent run-off road accidents
In parallel with the potential in the field of autonomous driving, road-integrated magnets open up a number of other possibilities:
- Incorporating magnet-based positioning in preventive safety systems could help prevent run-off road accidents.
- Magnets could facilitate accuracy of winter road maintenance, which in turn could prevent damage to snow-covered objects, such as barriers and signs, near the road edge.
- There is also a possibility of more efficient utilization of road space since accurate positioning could allow lanes to be narrower.
Accurate, reliable and cost-effective
Volvo Cars’ research team created a 100-meter long test track at the company’s testing facilities in Hällered outside Gothenburg, Sweden. A pattern of round ferrite magnets (40x15 mm) was located 200 mm below the road surface. The car was equipped with several magnetic field sensors.
The research program was designed to evaluate crucial issues, such as detection range, reliability, durability, cost and the impact on road maintenance.
“Our experience so far is that ferrite magnets are an efficient, reliable and relatively cheap solution, both when it comes to the infrastructure and on-board sensor technology. The next step is to conduct tests in real-life traffic,” explains Ekmark.
Claes Tingvall, traffic safety director at the Swedish Transport Administration, agrees: “The test results are very interesting, especially when adding the potential for improved safety as well the advantages for the development of self-driving vehicles. A large-scale implementation of road magnets could very well be part of Sweden’s aim to pioneer technology that contributes to sustainable mobility,” says Tingvall.
Concept Estate Wins Multiple ‘Car of the Show’ Awards in Geneva:
Volvo Cars’ 3rd concept car completes hat-trick
ROCKLEIGH, N.J. (March 10, 2014) - Volvo Cars has won a coveted ‘hat-trick’ of awards after its new Concept Estate concept car was named ‘Car of the Show’ by several international media.
Autoblog.com, the respected automotive online commentary site, stated: “You don't have to be a crazy car guy to appreciate that … Volvo is in the middle of a new golden era of automotive design right now." Publications in the UK and the Netherlands reserved similar praise on the Concept Estate, further cementing the car’s status as one of the stars of the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.
The award in Geneva follows Volvo Cars’ Concept Coupé being named ‘Car of the Show’ by a leading German automotive magazine at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show and the Concept XC Coupé receiving the prestigious ‘Eyes ON Design’ award at the 2014 Detroit Motor Show.
Global attention on Volvo’s concept cars has been intensifying as they provide the first significant clues as to how the all new and much-anticipated XC90 SUV and subsequent cars will both look and feel. The XC90 is due to be launched later this year.
The three consecutive awards underline the dramatic transformation currently underway at the Swedish car maker, overseen by Thomas Ingenlath, senior vice president design at Volvo Cars. The transformation is inspired by the simplicity, functionality and beauty that has become the hallmark of Scandinavian design.
The Volvo Concept Estate’s most striking interior design feature is its simplicity. Gone are the buttons of yesteryear to be replaced by a large tablet-like touch screen control panel in the center console, bringing the interior firmly into the 21st century.
“The basic idea is to organize controls and information in a perfectly intuitive and user-friendly way. Everything is exactly where you expect it to be, making the drive more enjoyable, efficient and safe,” says Ingenlath.
“Not having to deal with buttons and controls for a growing number of functionalities is like being freed from a pair of handcuffs,” says Robin Page, design director interior at Volvo Cars. “This has made it possible to build a beautiful interior architecture around the portrait screen. The concept car showcases how this user interface will be integrated in our new car generation.”
Apple and Volvo join forces
Building on the unveiling of Volvo’s new interior design and center console display, Volvo Cars and Apple Inc. announced in Geneva that the companies are joining forces to offer Volvo drivers full access to Apple’s widely used and hugely admired operating system in their own cars.
Via Apple CarPlay, the alliance enables the driver to experience and use the content of their Apple device through Volvo Cars’ center console touch screen display. The first Volvo to offer Apple’s operating system will be the all-new XC90 which will be introduced later this year.
Volvo Cars and Apple forge global alliance
Volvo Car Group (Volvo Cars) and Apple Inc. (Apple) are joining forces to make Apple’s widely-used and hugely admired operating system available to drivers, bringing together one of the world’s most progressive car companies and the world’s most famous technology company.
The alliance promises to transform the in-car experience. Called Apple CarPlay, the new service brings all the features and services familiar to iPad, iPhone or iPod users directly into the car via Volvo Cars' large center console touch screen display.
Volvo Cars enhances Apple’s capabilities by linking them to a specially-developed interface that allows drivers to use voice and steering wheel controls to access Apple features and services, ensuring the entire interaction is always safe and easy to use.
The interaction between Apple’s operating system and Volvo Cars' newly-designed in car software and interface promise to transform the look and feel of a car’s interior. Volvo Cars' interiors will be characterized by their simplicity and functionality, two qualities that unite both Volvo Cars and Apple.
“Apple’s clean and intuitive user interface is a perfect match with Volvo’s Scandinavian Design approach and our focus on fluid functionality,” says Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Cars.
The first car to offer Apple CarPlay will be the all new XC90 SUV which will be introduced later in 014, one of the most anticipated cars of recent years, replacing the original XC90, which redefined the SUV and became the best selling model in Volvo Cars' history.
With Apple CarPlay, users will immediately recognize their basic iPhone applications, such as phone, messages, music and navigation. The initial offer also features third party audio apps including Spotify, the popular music streaming service.
Volvo Cars' portrait screen gives users the benefit of having both Volvo Cars and Apple content co-existing simultaneously, removing the need to switch between a dedicated car and iPhone screen.
Apple CarPlay integrates seamlessly with the Volvo Cars' new user interface. Visually, it becomes part of the on-board system, displaying well-known icons for Apple applications.
“iPhone users will feel completely at home in a new Volvo. We have created a wholly-integrated user experience in our large portrait-oriented touch screen that takes the in-car mobile device experience to a new level. That, coupled with the obvious driver safety benefits of an advanced voice control system like Siri, made Apple a perfect match for Volvo,” says Håkan Samuelsson.
Apple CarPlay allows connection of the device to the car through a Lightning cable – with Wi-Fi coming in the near future. The connection is based on a streaming H.64 video feed that returns user input from the touchscreen. Apple CarPlay will be available in forthcoming Volvo models based on the new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), starting with the all-new Volvo XC90.