Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.
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28 unmanned systems inside June/July 2016 LAND INFRASTRUCTURE particularly important during the transition period when driverless cars are sharing the roadways with human drivers. "This will be the most challenging time," Scharer said. "The vehicles will need to com- municate about other autonomous vehicles as well as human drivers, who act differently than an autonomous vehicle. There needs to be a common way of talking among vehicles and to the traffic control system." But a common messaging system isn't enough. Today, every vehicle on the road has a different "brain," Scharer said, and none of them speak the same language or behave the same way. One might break differently than an- other or use different actions to solve the same problems. To ensure safety, driverless cars must perform and function in the same way—and that means a common operating system. When there's a barrier in the roadway, for example, all cars reacting to that barrier should brake at the same g-force and stopping distance, Scharer said. They should coordinate with other vehicles to ensure they don't collide when swerving to miss an object in the road. These cars of the not-so-distant future should have the same way of interrupting data and re- sponding to it, which is why Scharer believes developing a common operating system is key. Regardless of messaging styles and operat- ing systems, vehicle-to-vehicle communication isn't that far off. The Department of Transpor- tation is in the process of issuing a rule that will require every new vehicle sold in the U.S. to come equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle com- munication capability, Thomas said. This in- cludes being able to transmit data about the vehicle's position, direction and speed. Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Communication As driverless cars make their way down the road, they also must be able to receive up- dates from the infrastructure, according to the Florida Department of Transportation, whether it's to learn about a construction Photos courtesy of (Left) MIT Senseable City Laboratory and (Right) USDOT Researchers at the MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT), the SWISS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (ETHZ), and the ITALIAN NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (CNR) recently worked together to develop a possible replacement for traffc lights: the slot-based intersection. "Traffc lights are a 150-year-old technology originally conceived for horse carriages," said Professor Carlo Ratti, who is the director of the MIT Senseable City Laboratory. "We thought that, with the advent of autonomous cars, something could change in view of a better use of our roads and our time." SO WHAT EXACTLY IS A SLOT-BASED INTERSECTION? The idea is based on a scenario where sensor-laden vehicles pass through intersections by communicating and remaining at a safe distance from each other instead of grinding to a halt at traffc lights, Ratti said. The vehicle's speed is controlled so every car reaches the intersection in sync with the assigned slot. This avoids the stop and go, reducing emissions as well as long lines of cars and delays. These intersections will take some time to be fully developed, Ratti said, because for this to work, there needs to be a certain level of intelligence in every car. "That will happen as a natural evolution of the driverless car revolution," Ratti said. "What we can foresee, and what we're seeing already under certain conditions, are small enclaves where there are just autonomous vehicles, such as university or company campuses. I think we'll be able to test slot-based intersections very quickly in these kinds of spaces." THE SLOT-BASED INTERSECTION