Red Light, Green Light - Automated Driving Takes The Wheel

Today, at the HAVEit Final Event, 17 partners from the European automotive industry and scientific community, including EPFL, are set to demonstrate the highly automated future of driving. The EU funded project aims at increasing driving safety, improving efficiency and boosting the European automotive industry in the international market.

An automated vehicle drives through a narrow construction site, and the driver does not steer, accelerate or brake one single time. Another car passes the vehicle in front of it, after the driver pushes the appropriate button. A truck recognizes a traffic jam and automatically slows down. All of these highly automated driving features have been developed through the collaboration of the European automotive industry and scientific community, with an eye toward making driving safer, more environmentally-friendly and more comfortable. The developments will be presented today and tomorrow at the Final Event of the EU funded research project HAVEit (“Highly automated vehicles for intelligent transport”) in Borås (Sweden) and at the nearby Hällered Volvo test track. Seven demonstration vehicles will be on display. With Volvo, EPFL has developed a color camera designed to recognize traffic light signals up to 130 meters away.

Collaboration of different partners
17 partners from the European automotive industry, including Continental, Volvo Group, Volkswagen, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), as well as EPFL, have worked together to develop vehicle concepts and technologies through this project. Aside from networking technical innovations from research and science, HAVEit also aimed to secure the top spot in the international automotive industry for Europe and to tie together research and development resources.

A Hybrid Bus—Active Green Driving Technology
EPFL technology is integrated into one of the seven vehicles that have been developed—a hybrid bus that uses Active Green Driving Technology that takes hybrid technology, a combination electric and gasoline vehicules, to a new level. Hybrid vehicle technology can go much further in improving energy efficiency by making the switch between electric driven and gas driven modes to store brake energy created when going downhill automatic, for example. Automatically switching between these sources with high efficiency due to advanced information gathered from various sensors is called hybrid driveline control. Beyond the purely automatic control, the driver learns to interpret these data and drive more appropriately – he or she is even given feedback during and at the end of each trip.

One key aspect of hybrid driveline control is the detection of stop lights at a considerable distance ahead. The color camera mounted on the front of the bus recognizes red lights that are 5 to 60 meters away (working range) and could detect up to about 130 meters. The camera, developed at EPFL Laboratory of Microengineering for Manufacturing (LPM) , transmits this information to an onboard computer that fuses data about the vehicle’s surroundings from several sources. The camera needs to be rugged and withstand freezing temperatures in the coldest streets of Europe and around the world. Automobile compliable, modular and low-cost, it uses algorithms to dependably recognize red lights among the multitude of information captured. These algorithms make corrections for the relatively low quality images that are a result of automobile regulations for such devices. EPFL professor Peter Ryser, from the Production Design group in the LPM, will present his teams research finding tomorrow in Sweden, during the second day demonstrations.