ASI's robotic durability testing technology helps Ford perform test events that are too taxing for human drivers. Recent talks have shown the European automotive market is also highly interested in proving ground automation.
Members of ASI's sales and product development teams recently returned from attending the Automotive Testing Expo 2014 Europe held in Stuttgart, Germany. Testing engineers and OEMs from all over the world gather at the Europe Expo to discuss the latest technologies that will make automotive testing safer and more efficient. ASI representatives were able to establish relationships with European-based OEMs that are looking to vehicle robotics as a testing solution and identify key technology trends in the automotive industry.
The following discusses some of the industry trends ASI representatives discovered at the Expo and how these trends impact proving ground automation.
Impact of Emissions Regulations.
In past years, manual transmissions dominated the European vehicle market due to lower production cost and higher fuel efficiency. However, as European countries sharpen their focus on reducing vehicle emissions (in the form of severe fines for noncompliance), OEMs are responding by producing more vehicles with automatic transmissions which allow the OEMs greater control over shifting and fuel consumption.
This is good news for ASI's vehicle automation technologies that are highly effectively with automatic transmissions.
Safety is a key issue at all proving ground facilities, but especially those in Europe where proving grounds are smaller and space is at a premium. ASI's booth at the Automotive Testing Expo 2014 Europe demonstrated the application of vehicle robotics to automotive testing. Different testing groups may use the same track for testing events making it difficult for one group to close off sections of the track for robotic testing.
ASI's booth at the Automotive Testing Expo 2014 Europe showed ASI durability and misuse testing solutions.
Mixed traffic (robotic- and human-driven) situations raise safety concerns that must be addressed before robotic testing is widely accepted.
Progression of Driverless Technology. As driver assistance technologies become more sophisticated, automotive manufacturers are looking ahead at the next step in the progression toward a fully autonomous transportation system. Understanding and developing vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure interactions is the next hurdle to tackle.
Using technology to override an operator's commands—for example, if vehicle sensors detect a hazard that the operator apparently doesn't see—poses an interesting set of challenges that automotive testers are currently trying to solve.
Despite the unique challenges of the European automotive testing market, OEMs are very excited about the implications of proving ground automation and continue to show interest in ASI's vehicle automation technologies.