Bosch announces predictive road-condition services for automated vehicles
Bosch has announced a system designed to give automated vehicles a haptic "feel" of road conditions, similar to how human drivers understand the road and how well tries are gripping. “Wet roads, snow, ice—with our predictive road-condition services, we alert to hazards before critical situations can develop. We are helped here by the weather data provided by our partner Foreca. This means an automated vehicle will know exactly where it can drive autonomously, and how,” said Bosch management board member Dr. Dirk Hoheisel. Foreca has two decades of experience in predicting road weather conditions.
The road-condition services aim to boost driving safety and smoothness. In addition, the availability of automated driving functions is increased. The Bosch services package is to be rolled out worldwide in 2020, initially on the basis of weather data. As connected cars increasingly appear on the roads, the service will be augmented by vehicle data.
Bosch said that this system will let the automated vehicle will know in real time what environmental conditions to expect. This means it will have plenty of time to adapt its driving style, instead of having to hand over the driving task to the driver at the first sign of impaired road conditions. If the vehicle’s route takes it through rain, it is intended to adapt its speed to a level that excludes any risk of hydroplaning and allows it to stop safely at any time.
For its predictive road-condition services, Bosch is relying on a multi-phase concept. By the time of its planned launch in 2020, the company doesn't expect there to be a sufficiently large proportion of connected vehicles on the roads. Bosch estimates it would take some 20 million connected cars to cover the roughly 80,000 kilometers of freeway in Europe alone. For this reason, road-weather forecasts will initially be the only reliable source of information for drawing sound conclusions about road conditions, especially in rural areas where there is less traffic, according to the company. Bosch said it will obtain the constantly updated global road-weather data it needs for this from Foreca.
Bosch said it will supplement its predictive road-condition services with vehicle data as a sufficient number of connected vehicles take to the roads. These data will reportedly include information stored on the CAN bus, the vehicle’s central data network, such as the temperatures measured inside and outside the vehicle, and whether the windshield wipers are in use. This data will not remain unused in the vehicle, but will be sent into the Bosch cloud via the respective automaker’s back-end server. In addition, Bosch says it will evaluate the regular interventions by the electronic stability program (ESP) anti-skid system. Using mathematical methods, engineers can measure the friction coefficient of the road surface at each individual wheel, as well as the status of each wheel. When all these data are combined and intelligently evaluated, the result is a package of smart Bosch services aimed to enhance safety.