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ADAS Recalls Highlight the Considerable Autonomous Vehicles Challenges

by Ian Riches | 10月 05, 2015

Ford has recently had to re-call 36,857 of its 2015 Ford F-150 pickup trucks in North America for unexpected braking behavior in the adaptive cruise control system.

According to a Ford statement, “When passing a large, highly reflective truck, the adaptive cruise control radar in some of these vehicles could incorrectly identify the truck as being in the F-150 lane of travel when it is not.  As a result, the vehicle might apply the brakes until the truck is no longer perceived to be in the lane of travel.”

This follows a re-call earlier this year of 48,000 Honda Acura MDX SUVs and RLX sedans worldwide from the 2014 and 2015 model years.  In this case the system “may incorrectly interpret potential forward collisions if a vehicle ahead is traveling near a metallic structure, such as a metal guard rail or fence.”

Adaptive Cruise Control-type technology has been fitted to vehicles for over 20 years.  Strategy Analytics forecasts that by 2020 almost 30 million “distance warning” type systems will be fitted to vehicles every year, as regulators, testing authorities and insurance companies push for the adoption of the technology.

However, despite its long history and rapidly-growing volumes, there are clearly still some issues in deploying this technology safely and effectively into the mass market.  Given that this is arguably one of the simpler sub-tasks that an autonomous vehicle needs to perform, it is also a reality-check on the sheer complexity involved in bringing a fully-autonomous vehicle to market.

It also highlights the need for rapid adoption of over-the-air updates for these critical safety systems.  Both Ford and Honda have to bring vehicles back to dealers to get the software updated.  It is inconceivable that any autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle will leave the factory with “perfect” software that will never require updating.  The need for Firmware-Over-The-Air updating has long highlighted by my colleagues in reports such as this and this.  It cannot come too soon.

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