Volvo Car Group has completed a research project using magnets in the roadway to help the car determine its position.
The research, which has been financed in strategic co-operation with the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), is a potential key to the implementation of self-driving vehicles.
Reliable and highly accurate positioning is one of the crucial issues in the development of self-driving cars.
While established positioning technologies such as GPS and cameras have limitations in certain conditions, road-integrated magnets remain unaffected by physical obstacles and poor weather conditions.
The magnets create an invisible ‘railway’ that literally paves the way for a positioning inaccuracy of less than one decimeter.
Volvo Cars currently plays a leading role in a large-scale autonomous driving pilot project in which 100 self-driving Volvo cars will use public roads in everyday driving conditions around the Swedish city of Gothenburg.
Helps prevent run-off road accidents
In parallel with the potential in the field of autonomous driving, road-integrated magnets open up a number of other possibilities:
• Incorporating magnet-based positioning in preventive safety systems could help prevent run-off road accidents.
• Magnets could facilitate accuracy of winter road maintenance, which in turn could prevent damage to snow-covered objects, such as barriers and signs, near the road edge.
• There is also a possibility of more efficient utilization of road space since accurate positioning could allow lanes to be narrower.