Technology continues to drive the development of autonomous vehicles while calling attention to requirements for real-life use. In the following Q&A, Joseph Wong, Director of Transport & Infrastructure, WSP in Asia, discusses the journey to achieve full-fledged autonomy, key challenges as societies plan for autonomous vehicles (AVs), and the benefits AVs can bring to communities around the world.
How do AVs work?
Joseph Wong: Every AV has an intelligent mapping computer with sensors that detect objects and continuously talk back to the computer about the surroundings of the vehicle to propel or halt the AV. Of course, intelligence must be built in, to imitate human driving behaviour and adapt to real-time external conditions, provide for safe operation and enable acceptable ride comfort.
Rapidly developing autonomous-driving technologies can enhance car navigation, route planning and optimization, environment perception and car control. Features of automation exist in today’s vehicles, such as adaptive speed control, lane-keeping assist, and automatic emergency braking. Mass production of full-fledged AVs requires further progress in artificial intelligence [AI] capability and data availability; until that time, people will experience fully evolved autonomous vehicles in limited situations. For self-driving cars to operate safely in the broadest set of scenarios, they must be able to navigate in all types of weather and road conditions without human intervention. Globally, over the past several years, there have been incremental yet significant steps in the development of AVs—including cars, buses, trucks and shuttles, such as minibuses and pods—with variations in the levels of development, testing and scope of deployment.