Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - September 2021 - 14

Sensors
Commercial vehicle sensor challenges
Commercial vehicles share many of the same challenges as passenger
vehicles, but they also have additional requirements. Reliability and
longevity demands increase and operating conditions in agriculture
and construction are vastly different.
Autonomous vehicles have operated in mining and some other
closed environments for some time. In other off-highway fields, automated
systems aid operators - but don't replace them. In agriculture
and construction, sensing ranges often are relatively short.
" We expect most of our challenges to come in close range and
involve signal-blocking structures like trees, silos and storage sheds, "
said Nancy Post, director, Intelligent Solutions Group at John Deere.
Sensors combine with satellite positioning inputs for the specific
guidance requirements of most agricultural vehicles.
" As a result, our next-generation receivers will have technology that
mitigates most, if not all, of the scintillation and interference issues
that are common today. "
Driving-related sensors on these vehicles often will be relegated
Certified sensors with longer sensing distances will hasten AV
development for on- and off-road environments.
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to secondary status, because companies like Caterpillar and Deere
have their own satellite-positioning technologies. " Our primary sensor
is the satellite navigation system, which typically doesn't have the
same issues with inclement weather, " Post said. " During short periods
where it may be affected, we can fuse the positioning information for
the additional sensors like inertial navigation systems, camera and
imaging radar to bridge these gaps. "
On highways, reliability over the long haul is an essential factor.
Commercial vehicles have demanding environmental prerequisites
that are challenging suppliers' capabilities. Getting sensors that can
" see " far enough away to safeguard vehicles that haul heavy cargo
payloads is not easy.
" Sensors' range is quite important for some applications, and we
are always looking for sensors that are certified for safety purposes, "
said Luca Delgrossi, head of technology, Volvo Autonomous
Solutions. " Today, there are a few certified sensors and the distance
they can cover is still relatively short. Lidar's reliability is one of the
factors that determines how fast we can drive under safe conditions.
Different sensors can handle adverse weather conditions in different
ways. It is important to understand specific sensors limitations and
avoid running operations when the system cannot operate safely. "
Ryan Gehm
Wiring is another critical issue that arises in the proliferation
of sensors that generate large data streams. CAN doesn't
have the necessary bandwidth, while Ethernet requires bulkier
and more costly cables. That's prompted many engineering
teams to deploy a standard used in many phone cameras: the
MIPI-A-PHY standard, developed by the MIPI Alliance, is
gaining acceptance as a sensor link.
" Most sensor transmissions are largely mono-directional,
so you don't need to go to Ethernet, " Duncan said. " A new
protocol, MIPI-A-PHY, can be quite efficient. It uses cheap
cables, they're about a third the cost of Ethernet cables. " ■
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Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - September 2021

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