BRIMLEY, MI – Automotive technology supplier Continental will partner with industrial conglomerate 3M to explore ways to improve the transportation infrastructure, such as road signs and pavement markings, to help make autonomous vehicles a reality more quickly and safely.
The partners intend to share their findings and recommendations with departments of transportation to deploy the best future infrastructure, as well as optimize the companies’ products. For Continental it would be the perception and localization capabilities of its advanced-driver-assistance systems that serve as the building blocks for AVs, and for 3M the ability for its products to communicate with connected and self-driving cars.
“That is the vision,” says Hiren Desai, head of Strategy & Innovation, Chassis & Safety Systems & Technology, at Continental North America.
“Autonomy will not happen in a vacuum,” he tells Wards during a briefing of the collaboration at the supplier’s test track in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “Infrastructure will be required.”
Continental cites present infrastructure deficiencies around consistency, uniformity, performance specifications and maintenance standards vitally important to AVs. The supplier admits many of the collaboration's infrastructure solutions may not be possible in the near term, but says the partners are taking a long-term view toward solving the issues. They do think the collaboration could yield some immediate road safety improvements.
Continental says the collaboration will combine the supplier’s automotive safety systems expertise with 3M’s knowledge of roadway technologies.
The companies say they intend to evaluate the infrastructure and vehicle interface in the following ways: localization and correction services using clear environmental landmarks for locating a vehicle on a high-definition map; identification and classification of objects in urban roadway environments including urban cross walks, signalized intersections and other stationary and moving objects to improve safety; improved awareness of objects in and around work zones and the status of the work zones; and enhanced object detection using sensor-fusion-detectable infrastructure-related objects.
Most automakers and suppliers believe AVs could be deployed in the coming years through robotaxi fleets, although adoption as personal vehicles remain much further down the road.