Sensing the way ahead

The trend towards fully autonomous vehicles is forcing Tier One suppliers to develop more sensor technologies and software algorithms. Valeo wants to be at the forefront of this effort

The industry is swinging towards autonomous vehicles – cars that can drive themselves through certain scenarios, reducing the stress of driving in heavy traffic and inner-city environments. The development will also help to reduce the number of accidents that occur on our roads, saving countless lives, and cut emissions. That’s the dream of engineers working on the technology, anyway.

And it is a dream shared by Valeo’s senior vice-president of research and development, Jean-François Tarabbia. He is working with his many colleagues at the Tier One supplier to develop the sensor sets and software algorithms necessary to bring autonomous vehicles to the roads.

“It’s important for us to contribute actively to autonomous driving and emissions reduction. We’re convinced that this is what the consumer wants,” he says.

Tarabbia says that the demands from consumers are changing, and that, while cars will remain an important part of everyday mobility, people are less willing to accept the more monotonous tasks associated with daily travel.

“They want to have a car that is easier to use, that’s as simple as it is,” he says. “Things have changed – when I was 18 everybody wanted to have a driver’s licence immediately to enjoy the car, but, because of the traffic jams, parking, costs, maybe the car has lost a little bit of its interest.”  

Keeping the car relevant in an ever-changing world will require the development and adoption of new technologies, allowing firms to remove the frustrating aspects of driving and leave only the enjoyable parts.

Tarabbia would like to start with removing the hindrance of finding a parking space.

He says: “People like to use a car to go for dinner but if they lose time finding a parking space then they say I won’t take my car next time. If we are able to provide a solution to park the car, this will remove the issue.”

The firm is developing suitable technology at the moment, but it will take time before it can be introduced to the marketplace. 

As a stepping stone, Valeo offers automatic systems where vehicles can be parked perpendicularly or in parallel spaces, with the driver in or out of the car.

“Another area is the traffic jam,” says Tarabbia. “No one likes to drive in stop-and-go situations, so we want to remove this, and when the driving phase becomes interesting again then we give control back to the driver.” 

tags: November 2015 Valeo Connectivity