Škoda and the VŠB – Technical University of Ostrava in the Czech Republic are collaborating on development of driving assistance systems as part of a joint Follow the Vehicle project. The aim of the project is to have autonomous cars follow a manned lead vehicle.
The principle behind the Follow the Vehicle project, says Škoda, is ‘two cars, one driver’. The lead vehicle is driven by a human, determining route, speed, lane and other parameters. Data required for steering input, acceleration and braking is transmitted to the autonomous car by radio, which follows the lead vehicle at a distance of up to 10m.
Before the start of the journey, both vehicles are provided with a digital code. Car-to-X technology ensures communication between the test cars and other vehicles as well as with the traffic infrastructure. Data is exchanged via ETSI ITS-G5, the standard for vehicular communication, and the 4G, LTE and 5G mobile networks.
Standard factory-installed and retrofitted sensors, including radar, camera-based systems and a communication unit for data processing, enable the vehicles to identify images and 3D objects. They read a variety of different data, such as the vehicle’s current location and driving-related parameters. The system monitors the car’s surroundings and current traffic in real time.
Christian Strube, Škoda Auto board member for technical development, explained, “Follow the Vehicle showcases our current assistance systems’ high technical standard and impressively illustrates the opportunities these systems are capable of unlocking when combined with other relevant technologies in the field of autonomous driving. The project also enables us to commit to our role as a promoter of technical education in the Czech Republic.”
Professor Václav Snášel, rector of the VŠB – Technical University of Ostrava, added, “Autonomous driving requires a multidisciplinary approach, and by actively working together, we have established principles and effective alliances between experts from the university and from Škoda Auto’s development department. We believe that we will intensify this collaboration further in future, promoting professional development while also involving new, young researchers, from whom the Czech automotive industry will benefit.”