31-03-2017 | | By Paul Whytock
A downloadable software App that can turn a car into a self-driving autonomous unit can now be downloaded via the Internet. (Link at end of story)
Called DriveYOU the app only works on cars less than five years old and will only operate while the vehicle is on a motorway, autobahn or freeway.
The system utilises the huge amounts of electronics now integrated into modern cars and communicates its operational requirements to the relevant control areas of the vehicle via the CAN ( Controller Area Network) which is the vehicle communications network that enables microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other in applications without a host computer.
The DriveYOU App has been developed and launched by the SoftCELL Corporation, a conglomerate consisting of software and hardware companies from the USA, Britain and Japan.
Speaking at the London press conference, CEO of SoftCELL, Grant Sturdey said: “This software innovation will revolutionise driving on a global scale. Drivers will still have to be in command of the vehicle but the App will be able to control, speed, distance, collision avoidance, and lane departure hazards while the vehicle is driving on motorway type roads. It is not enabled for town our country driving. We are expecting a global take-up of the product.”
The system exploits the hundreds of sensors and microprocessors that are used in today’s cars and are referred to as VST (Vehicle Safety Technology). There are currently over three hundred vehicle operational and safety control systems. Prime amongst these are the ECU (engine control unit), GPS navigation, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning systems, assured clear distance in front systems, anti-collision systems, pedestrian alert systems, adaptive cruise control (Distance control), DADS (driver alertness control) to mention a few. These of course work in conjunction with brake and steer by wire systems.
Safety concerns regarding the indiscriminate use of autonomous car software systems has been voiced by a number of organisations although the system has undergone what SoftCELL describe as exhaustive testing.
Police organisations and the Road Transport Research Laboratory are currently putting the DriveYOU App through its paces at a variety of test locations that simulate motorway-driving conditions.
The exact software configuration and algorithm base of the DriveYOU App has not been made public but cars today have as many as 100 electronic control units. Some of these operate as independent units but many others must communicate with each other via CAN bus. A key advantage of this form of communication bus is it is now possible to encrypt information on it. Also, interconnection between different vehicle systems can allow a wide range of safety, economy and convenience features to be implemented using software alone which is where the DriveYOU App comes in. A similar level level of functionality if hardwired into a vehicle would be cost prohibitive.
Download the DriveYOU App here along with essential safety instructions and access to corporate help-lines.