Act – Bosch gets automated cars moving safely on the road

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Everything about Act at a glance

Infographic Act

When cars drive autonomously, safety is a top priority

A highly or fully automated vehicle knows its route and steers, brakes and accelerates autonomously while the driver can sit back and relax. The exact parameters for each pending driving maneuver are supplied by the vehicle computer. In its capacity as the smart car’s brain, it utilizes a wide variety of information for calculating the optimal driving strategy. This includes evaluated data provided by the surround-sensor system as well as digital real-time maps with information on road conditions, traffic or weather.

Reliable implementation of the calculated driving strategy (“Act”) is assumed by the powertrain, steering and brakes. They represent the car’s muscles, so to speak, which pass the powertrain, braking or steering forces onto its limbs – the wheels – thereby getting it onto the road. Impulses are provided by electronic lines which – just like nerve pathways in the human body – stimulate action by the individual systems.

Automated driving makes particularly high demands on the safety of components and sub-systems in the vehicle which is why Bosch is already today offering solutions for safety-critical functions with a redundant system design providing maximum protection from possible failures.

avoiding dangers

Thanks to its surround-sensor system, the vehicle constantly perceives its surroundings, enabling it to sense and avoid dangers in good time.

driving proactively

The vehicle knows the road conditions ahead, such as ice or rain, and can adapt its driving behavior or route in good time.

Smart vehicles plan far ahead – yet are constantly adaptive

Automated vehicles not only react to the situation at hand but also drive proactively by calculating the probability of changes occurring.

The driving strategy decides how the automated vehicle is to act in road traffic and calculates the requisite values for vehicle steering. The vehicle must also be capable of assuming tasks which are already a challenge for human drivers. It must autonomously decide where it is going, when to accelerate, brake and steer – all on the basis of information which can change at a moment’s notice. The system must therefore consider its entire surroundings when calculating the route and steering the car swiftly, safely and precisely. Because the vehicle knows the current road conditions, when there is an icy stretch ahead, for example, it can adapt its driving strategy accordingly and reduce speed for safely crossing icy patches.

As it constantly perceives and evaluates its own position and its entire 360-degree surroundings, it is also capable of bypassing obstacles or changing lanes as required. And because its software’s artificial intelligence learns the characteristic behavior of objects, it can drive proactively and react in good time in critical situations – for example, by activating the brake system when a pedestrian is about to cross the road ahead.

Redundant systems protect automated cars from failures

Better safe than sorry: system redundancy for automated driving

For highly and fully automated driving in particular, drivers no longer need to monitor the system. When automated vehicles assume the driving responsibility, there is also the question of safety which needs to be addressed. Although the risk of failure by the system and individual components can be reduced to a minimum – it cannot be entirely eliminated. In the event of a system failure, it must therefore be possible for the vehicle to achieve a safe state even without intervention by the driver.

For this reason, Bosch has developed solutions which safeguard the automated system against malfunctions: safety-critical sub-systems such as steering, braking, onboard power supply system and data processing have a redundant design and are controlled independently. This means that when one system fails, another independent system is always capable of assuming the respective task and, for example, bringing the vehicle to a safe standstill in a critical situation.

Bosch already offers a redundant solution for safeguarding the braking system: independently of each other, the iBooster, an electromechanical brake booster, and the ESP® brake control system can decelerate the vehicle to a standstill without requiring intervention by the driver. The steering system is also a key technology for automated driving. With its Servolectric® electric power steering, Bosch has developed a steering solution which meets all of the safety requirements associated with highly automated driving.

Automated vehicles must have three fundamental skills: they have to be able to perceive and interpret (Sense) their surroundings, use this information to make forecasts and derive a suitable driving strategy (Think), and then implement it reliably and safely (Act). Sensing the immediate environment is the task of the surround sensors which combines camera, radar and ultrasonic. Vehicle intelligence enabling it to interpret its surroundings and find the optimal driving strategy is made possible by software and algorithms which use the information gleaned from sensors as well as data from other connected systems.

Systems such as the powertrain, steering and brakes ensure that the respective driving strategy is then implemented on the road. This process of sensing, thinking and acting takes place during the entire journey. When applied to human beings, this process is similar to constant interactions in the body during which the sensory organs pick up stimuli which are processed by the brain before the nerve pathways, muscles and limbs implement the brain’s control signals as actions.

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