The incredible advances that the 21st century has brought with it in many fields have not managed to reduce, however, the high accident rate on the roads, a problem that in 95% of the cases in routes of all the European Union is due to human errors.
Faced with this reality, a feasible and increasingly closer option is imposed, the autonomous cars, or what is the same without driver. It is an option with many advantages since, in addition to reducing the number of accidents, being connected to each other, it would improve traffic flow, it would reduce the level of emissions of polluting gases into the atmosphere and solve the transport difficulties for people with mobility problems.
The future of autonomous driving
It is not a distant issue, or another, at least in Lanzarote where the 'CITIES Timanfaya' project has been working for some time, -acronym that refers to "Intelligent Concept for an Integrated, Ecological and Safe Transport" -, a revolutionary project for the use of an ecological, autonomous and safe transport in the Mountains of Fire that has a budget of 1,012,949 euros , from the Canary Islands Development Fund (FDCAN) managed by the Project Planning and Coordination Unit of the Cabildo de Lanzarote.
The objective of this pioneering experience that the CACT have launched is incorporate an autonomous and electric vehicle on the Ruta de los Volcanes, in the Montañas del Fuego that makes integrated, ecological and safe transportation possible in Timanfaya
The first calculations estimate that the implementation of these electric and autonomous vehicles in the Ruta de los Volcanes It will mean a reduction of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere of up to 469 tons per year. Likewise, the costs associated with the consumption of fossil fuels of the buses that currently make the route of the Montañas del Fuego will be eliminated, which amount to around 180,000 euros per year.
Project 'CITIES Timanfaya' progresses at a good pace
The project is very advanced, so much so that it has recently been presented to the heads of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities in order to obtain its support and involvement for the creation of an interministerial working group that promotes and develops the necessary adaptation of legislation to autonomous driving.
The CITIES Timanfaya Consortium has actively participated Elena de la Peña, representing the Spanish Road Association, coordinating entity of the project, the professors of the Carlos III University of Madrid José Luis San Román and José María Armingol, Ricardo Chicharro, of 2RK, smart mobility consultants and the National Institute of Aerospace Technology, and involves 20 doctors and more than 40 university graduates.
So far, and for the realization of the mapped the Volcanoes Route, Differential GPS, stereo vision cameras and lidar (light detection and ranging) equipment, an optical remote sensing technique that uses lasers to obtain a dense sample of the earth's surface producing accurate measurements in three dimensions, have been used.
The data obtained from these measurements will be used to simulate the Route of the Volcanoes in the tracks that the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) has in Madrid. There, the demonstrator vehicle, which has already successfully passed the first technical tests to guarantee the viability of its use in the project, it will undergo new tests in order to analyze its behavior before the complex route of the Montañas del Fuego, the greatest technical difficulty that this project has to face.
What exactly does this CitiesTimanfaya project consist of?
San Román and De la Peña have it very clear. "CitiesTimanfaya is a revolutionary project that proposes, based on a technological demonstrator that will be operational in 18 months, that the route of the Volcanoes Route in Timanfaya will be carried out in the latest, electric and autonomous vehicles", they explain. "It's about implementing the more sustainable and more efficient transport system in an environment of high value such as the Timanfaya National Park. In this way, it will improve even more if possible, the experience of tourists who visit Lanzarote every year, who will bear witness to a pioneering innovation in the world. "
And they add. "The technological demonstrator, by means of a small bus, will serve as the basis for thefleets of larger buses that make the journey are electric and autonomous, based on the technology that will be tested in the project. "
Is autonomous driving safe?
It is. This is explained by the promoters of the initiative. "The demonstration vehicle will be equipped with all kinds of technologies to guarantee the safety of the passengers, security is clearly the priority aspect." On the one hand, the perception system guarantees, through the adaptation and improvement of the specific algorithms, that the The vehicle correctly interprets the environment through which it must circulate and the obstacles it must overcome.n complex system is responsible for controlling the longitudinal dynamics of the vehicle in acceleration movements, speed control, necessary stability, as well as other driving assistance systems "
Furthermore, if that were not enough, "the lateral dynamics of the vehicle are controlled by means of motors that are operated from electronic control units. The braking system of the vehicle is designed to ensure precise braking both conventional and in emergency situations. All this is complemented by a complex communications system that keeps the vehicles under control at all times, with the utmost precision. "
Advantages of intelligent transport
Many are the advantages of this new form of intelligent transport. From the Spanish Road Association and the Carlos III University of Madrid, they list some. "The environmental impact is significantly reduced; an improvement in road safety is also expected by minimizing the possibility of human error (although the route has not registered almost sinister in a long time and the drivers who usually do have a great experience and ability to do their job) " , they explain. "The tourist experience improves a lot due to the use of an innovative vehicle with the latest technology available, both for the trip and for the visualization of the surroundings, available audiovisuals ".
While the European manufacturers press Europe to be able to sell cars with autonomous technology of level 3 from 2020, and the jurists analyze the adaptation of the regulations, the Centers are one step ahead, promoting research and technological progress for the benefit of its environment and its population. The future is already here, at least in Lanzarote.