Implementing robust technologies for an electric automated car concept for aging drivers

Brief Description  

Elderly population is increasing year after year in the developed countries, according to the OECD. In 2030, one out of every three Spanish drivers will be over 65 years old. Driving is key to the independence and mobility of our elders, but there is some concern about their skills deterioration as they get older. Vehicles automation can contribute to this goal incorporating Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Self-driving has recently become a hot topic among automaker companies and researchers. There are numerous different fully autonomous vehicle projects in various stages of development. However, autonomous vehicle technology is far from being ready to be deployed at full scale. Besides, there is little research in the development of systems designed for the elderly sector that analyze the human factors. Senior drivers do not demand full autonomous driving systems, what they want are systems that allow them to drive in a safe way. Conscious of this research niche, UAH has been working in the SmartElderlyCar project (2016-2018), developing a first prototype of car with some autonomous functions. Based on our previous results in this project, the main goal of Techs4AgaCar proposal is to research in techniques for an automatic electric car new concept (AgeCar), able to assist senior drivers with different automation levels, according to the drivers needs and taking into account users safety and acceptance as key development points. The proposal is disruptive both in the concept and in the new applied techniques. Our bet is for a personal electric vehicle, where automation acts as a guardian and not as a chauffeur, and that may be of interest not only for large car manufacturers, but also for Spanish emerging electric vehicles companies (Comarth, Little Cars, Irikar, etc.). The project aims contributions in different research fields. Regarding to perception systems and HMI, our proposal will focus, on the one hand, in the development of robust techniques to have a complete understanding of the car surrounding, applying concepts as prediction and uncertainty. On the other hand, we research in a vehicle-to-user (V2U) communication protocol to improve interpretability and safe control transfer between automation levels. Contributions in planning and control are aimed to develop a robust local navigation layer that will take into account uncertainty, develop an executive control layer able to make safe decisions for the different use cases, and to provide insights from the control architecture to the V2U interface, improving interpretability of the autonomous actions. Finally, Techs4AgeCar aims at paving the way for a good adoption of our AgeCar concept by advancing on validation protocols. In this way, a set of new Euro NCAP type scenarios for automated driving in presence of vulnerable users (VRUs) and other vehicles will be implemented performing a repetitive analysis using different senior drivers, with special focus on user-acceptance.  


Robesafe Group. Department of Electronics. University of Alcalá. Polytechnic School. Campus Universitario Ctra. de Madrid-Barcelona, Km. 33,600 28871 Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) – Spain. (www.robesafe.uah.es/)



Project funding by Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades. Ref: RTI2018-099263-B-C21 (2019-2021)