ŠKODA AUTO and the VŠB – Technical University of Ostrava are collaborating on new technologies for assistance systems as part of their joint ‘Follow the Vehicle’ project. The aim is to have autonomous cars follow a manned lead vehicle. Two correspondingly configured ŠKODA SUPERB iVs are currently undergoing test drives on the campus of the VŠB – Technical University of Ostrava.
Christian Strube, ŠKODA AUTO Board Member for Technical Development, said: “‘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 allows us to commit to our role as a promoter of technical education in the Czech Republic. We are delighted to be working with students and researchers from the VŠB – Technical University of Ostrava, who – with their ideas, expertise and devotion – are instrumental to the project.”
Professor Václav Snášel, Rector of the VŠB – Technical University of Ostrava , added: “In the ‘National Competence Center – Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence’ or TAČR, which is responsible for the development and research of autonomous driving systems, we have succeeded in bringing together experienced researchers and students from various disciplines. 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 whilst also involving new, young researchers, from whom the Czech automotive industry will benefit.”
The principle behind the ‘Follow the Vehicle’ project 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 ten metres.
Before the start of the journey, both vehicles are provided with a digital code. The test vehicles, two ŠKODA SUPERB iV, are equipped with state-of-the-art technology in the fields of smart city and intelligent transport systems. 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 as well as special sensors, radar- and camera-based systems and a specially fitted communication unit for data processing allow the SUPERB iVs 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.
ŠKODA AUTO continues to be fully committed to the Czech Republic’s technical and vocational education, as can be seen in its collaboration with the VŠB – Technical University of Ostrava (https://www.vsb.cz), for instance. The vehicle electronics and computer science students have been heavily involved in the ‘Follow the Vehicle’ project, allowing them to gain valuable practical experience and establish business relations with the ŠKODA AUTO engineers.