Now also PSA. After the French carmaker had already announced its plans at the IAA in autumn, the Peugeot Citroën Group now presented on the occasion of an EU Transport Ministers meeting, how far he is already in terms of autonomous driving. However, as far as series production is concerned, the French are lagging behind the competition, and they were already able to inspire government representatives with a Level 3 prototype.
Level 3 vehicles are the cars where the driver does not need to have their hands on the wheel or attention to the traffic. So he can read, play with his cell phone or devote himself to his riders while the car rolls by itself. However, the driver must be able to take control again within seconds on command, if the technology reaches its limits. One level below, ie level 2, stands for semi-automated cars, where the driver can delegate some tasks to the technology, be it steering, parking or lane change. The latter already dominate some production model - including Mercedes and Tesla - and also one of the two Citroën C4 Picasso, which brought the engineers to Amsterdam.
Once on the highway, the system can be activated and the van slides on its track as if guided by a ghost. The technology steers, brakes and accelerates - and monitors the driver. If he turns away from the street, he is admonished. He does not have to have his hands on the wheel. If the technology detects a new speed limit, it asks the driver if it should take over - so engineers are still avoiding the latest inaccuracies in detection. And if at some point you have enough of sneaking behind the truck, it is enough to set the turn signal, already knows the hidden chauffeur that he should perform a lane change; Of course he does that only when the left lane is free, and behaves politely polite: Pushing into a narrow gap does not come to mind the Citroën.
The technique that PSA uses for the Level 2 car is not rocket science. A few radar sensors and cameras complement the existing on-board sensor, the rest is processing power, which is taken over by large computers in the trunk of the van. However, it will take some time before the French bring the demonstrated functions into series production. 2020 is targeted. Two years more should come at least a Staufolge assistant, as he is, for example, at Mercedes for longer in the offer.
The second C4 Picasso, which was presented to the Transport Ministers, is already at level 3 level, and even further away from the series. It is supported by additional laser sensors and a so-called differentiated GPS, which together with high-resolution map data can determine the position of the car to five centimeters; If the satellite reception is bad, the cameras also provide exact data. To be driven by the Citroën, you must first tell him the destination. As soon as you get on the highway, the autopilot will be ready to serve and take command at the push of a button. Now the driver can sit back and relax. With up to 130 km / h, the car spins the miles, sticks to speed limits, decides itself when an overtaking maneuver is necessary and changes at motorway junctions if need be on another highway. Shortly before the finish line, the technology brings the driver back into the boat and hands him the wheel.
This could make long motorway journeys much more pleasant in the future, and the French have proven that they are familiar with the technology with the two prototypes. Now, however, it is important to significantly expand the test fleet of currently five vehicles and to make the technology ready for series production - and to convince legislators together with the other manufacturers. Because until a level 3 car is allowed to roll across Europe without driver intervention, some paragraphs need to be revised. Perhaps, however, the Amsterdam demonstration convinced the ministers of transport with a total of over twenty different vehicle models.