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Latest Technology Trends in Unmanned Vehicles

Posted April 2, 2019

The latest key technology trends for 2019 include all “the autonomous things that use AI to interact more naturally with their environment.”

Image credit: asawin via Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain

Gartner puts here in the same bag robots (such as those adopted by “Banque Cantonale Vaudoise” or Mediamarkt), autonomous vehicles (the race is launched between Volkswagen, Toyota-Uber, the Chinese Baidu and the Waymo pioneer), drones (those who deliver Swiss hospitals like those who save shark surfers in Australia), household appliances (such as healthy drinks machine), but also the agents (chatbots, RPA, … all these possibilities that will notably upset the customer service).

Thanks to dash cam with night vision or hidden spy cam, we are more and more impregnated autonomous cars that are more and more present in the news.

They are vehicles that can run without human driver intervention, thanks to autoguiding technologies, made possible by numerous sensors and algorithms.

In level 4 of autonomous driving, the driver can choose between not driving at all or taking the steering wheel again in case of a complex driving situation. In level 5, the vehicles are 100% autonomous, and therefore without a steering wheel.

Strongly linked to autonomous cars, autonomous machines are mobile devices that can evolve on land or in the air, or even at sea, and independently.

The progress of unmanned vehicles is changing and here are the latest trends.

The democratization of AI

Within ten years, AI technologies will be practically everywhere. Enabling their early adopters to adapt to new technologies and solve problems never before encountered, they will become accessible to the general public – will become more democratic.

Movements and trends such as cloud computing, Maker culture and free source code will soon make AI accessible to all.

For example, with intelligent robots that can work alongside humans – providing room services or working in warehouses – companies will be able to support and replace human resources or redeploy them to tasks. more useful and profitable.

This category also includes level 4 and level 5 autonomous driving, which replaced the “autonomous vehicles” this year in the Hype Cycle.

Level 4 autonomous driving refers to the ability of vehicles to operate without human interaction in most conditions and locations, and presumably in virtually demarcated areas.

Vehicles with this level of driving autonomy will likely integrate the market over a 10-year horizon.

Level 5 driving autonomy refers to the ability of vehicles to operate autonomously in all situations and conditions, as well as to control all tasks. With no steering wheel, brakes or pedals, these cars could become another living environment for families and have a significant societal impact.

The autonomous car of tomorrow will be shared

Many industrialists are convinced of this: the first concrete applications of 100% autonomous driving will be carried out by shared vehicles.

Two trends are emerging: the transportation of people independently and the reception of mobile shops. At Toyota, we choose not to choose between these two trends. The Japanese manufacturer has indeed presented e-Palette at the CES in Las Vegas 2018.

Taking the form of a small electric shuttle, this vehicle can be used to transport people, moving mobile shops, deliveries and transportation of goods. Specifically, e-Palette can be used as a VTC or house a store to ensure deliveries.

This amazing concept is expected to make its appearance in 2020, during the Tokyo Olympics. Evidence that the trend is needed; many other actors are addressing the issue of shared autonomous vehicles.

One thinks in particular to Rinspeed who intends to invent a flexible vehicle, able to change bodywork to turn into utility or car.

For its part, the start-up Robomart intends to develop a standalone vehicle providing robotic deliveries, while Fisker leans with the Chinese HUG on an urban shuttle project.

And in terms of shared vehicles, the French are also in the spotlight. As proof, the start-up Navya was carrying out autonomous shuttle tests in the streets of Las Vegas during the show. This autonomous taxi has been tested in France since the second quarter of 2018.

The human-machine interface will be done by image and sound 

Everything suggests that the HMI, or human-machine interface, will mainly pass through screens.

In any case, this is the bet that the Chinese company Byton makes. Founded by former executives of Apple, BMW or Tesla, this start-up presented at the CES in Las Vegas 2018 a concept car equipped with a huge digital panel covering the entire dashboard.

The goal?

Invent the first intelligent and intuitive car. Byton is expected by the end of 2019 and for only $ 45,000. Given its announced performance (476 horsepower, 520 km of autonomy, recharge of 30 minutes to recover 400 km of autonomy, etc.), the promise is beautiful on paper.

And the more we discover new booths at CES Las Vegas 2018, the more we notice that the display solutions are numerous. NVIDIA is particularly thought of as having a screen combining real-world vision and superimposed display of data.

But motorists will also rely on voice assistants a priori. In any case, this is Ford‘s vision of the future. The American manufacturer announces that 75% of new cars will ship a voice command, based on the Cloud to operate, from 2022. Voice commands, voice recognition, analysis of the level of well-being of the driver … as many tasks that may be assigned to voice assistants in the future. We just have to wait and see if these trends become reality in the near future.


The term “drone” evokes a remotely controlled and heavily armed military machine, or perhaps a small quad-helicopter armed only with a camera. Essentially, drones are remotely operated vehicles that travel unmanned on board.

UAVs can operate according to a predefined plan previously programmed or be remotely controlled. Amazon and UPS have experimented with a drone delivery system, if such a thing had to take off (sorry the pun), how long before these drones were diverted for loading or falling from the sky and hurting someone?

Suffice it to say that the drones are here to stay and it will be interesting to see where the technology is going. A quick tour on YouTube reveals experimental drones and concept vehicles.

The Tesla will be 100% autonomous in 2019

Musk said a few years ago that the hardest thing for a car brand was to develop the final 10% of an autonomous system, those that allowed the car to anticipate everything and control everything without driver intervention. He explains that a Tesla will be able to do everything alone this year, but that the observation of a human will still be necessary. He explains this nuance by an analogy with the rhythm of production.

“We envision our cars as forward thinking for stand-alone software, and for the autonomous car,” said the billionaire. “I still think that the last 10% is extremely difficult to develop, compared to production, when I say that we will reach 5,000 cars a week, it’s a peak production, but that means that if we count the hazards, holidays and so on, we will average 80, 85% of this figure.”

Elon Musk, however, is asking for a little more time for this type of system to be safe enough to obtain authorization from the authorities.

According to him, a specific moment will be the indicator of the sufficient security of these systems: “My opinion on when will it be safe enough for someone to fall asleep at the wheel and wake up safely at destination? would say that it will be towards the end of next year, that it is at that time that he will be sure to use these systems.”

Later in the podcast, he gave some details about the last remaining challenges for the Autopilot to be fully autonomous: “At the development level, [there is] no problem to recognize stop signs and fires But sometimes there is ambiguity in complex intersections with traffic lights, for example, which fire to focus on – even for a human, it’s not always clear, so that’s what we’re working on.”

Autonomous car is able to drive on unmapped roads

The Japanese automaker Toyota has teamed up with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop a stand-alone vehicle that can roam country roads. In the majority of cases, to develop their autonomous vehicles, car manufacturers test their technology in urban areas; it is much easier for an autonomous vehicle to move forward and find its way around cities thanks to 3D data.

Outside large cities, autonomous vehicles have little or no landmarks; they are left to their own devices. For this autonomous car, Toyota and MIT have equipped the vehicle with LiDAR sensors that allow the vehicle to map its environment and draw its trajectory. Unfortunately, this navigation system called “MapLite” does not yet take into account the unevenness. Thus, the autonomous vehicle keeps the same speed regardless of the state of the road.

This system does not use three-dimensional data and can be very useful in less developed countries. Thanks to this device, the autonomous car will be able to move forward with its eyes (GPS + LiDAR sensors), make decisions thanks to an artificial intelligence system and only rely on 3D data.

Of course, this technology is not yet developed. It needs to be improved and refined so that manufacturers can, in the near future, deploy it on their entire vehicle.

The future of mobility will go through the autonomous shuttle, according to Toyota

Have you ever wondered what vehicles would populate our streets in 50 years? If not, know that some men and women are paid to do it for you.

For example, Simon Humphries, Director of Advanced Design at Toyota, spoke about his vision of the future of mobility, and more specifically about the future of the automobile. It must be said that the man is rather well placed to give his opinion, since it went through Sony before working for Toyota and Lexus, combining its skills in terms of technology to its design know-how.

According to him, the current electrification of cars and the beginnings of autonomous driving could considerably modify the automotive landscape that is now familiar to us. He describes a “car landscape split in two, where most of us will have abandoned our cars for autonomous shuttles.”

And the distinction between wealth and the middle class would be even more visible since, according to Humphries, “the richest of us will ride them in ultra-luxury vehicles“, thus allowing a distinction with the shuttles of Mister-All-the -world.

But how would we act in practice? Humphries believes that, similar to what is already done to order a taxi; we would use our smartphones to order a self-contained electric shuttle, available in just a few minutes that would take us to our destination. As for the richest, they would obviously use their personal and personalized vehicle.

The designer Toyota imagines that two categories could mix: a practical solution and a more personal and emotional-related solution. The in-between, that is to say, the mass purchase of traditional cars, would thus bring to disappear little by little.

Read his diary while driving

“Level 5, the one where the driver can read his diary while driving, will not be available on the market before 2025, at best, and the obstacles are not only technical: there are still large unknown in terms of regulation” explains Charles de la Tour d’Auvergne, head of new mobility at the audit firm PwC.

Nieuwe technology

In recent years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of driver assistance systems in cars: unintentional line crossing warning, blind spot control, automatic recognition of traffic signs, etc.

This year will come to add many new technologies, of which facial recognition is probably the most prominent.

Some models of brands like Lexus and Cadillac as well as the more affordable Subaru Forester scan the driver’s face and alert the slightest sign of fatigue.

Even more radical are the new forms of connectivity that we see emerging. Vehicles are always more connected to their environment and offer for example integration with Alexa of Amazon, even with the home automation of your home, so that you can operate the lighting or other domestic functions while driving.

Nieuwe mobiliteit

The new mobility is exhibited under the title “WeAreMobility” at Palais 10 for the first 4 days of the Auto Show.

The opportunity to get acquainted with the MaaS (Mobility as a Service) and different forms of sharing cars or scooters, but also to discover the potential impact of drones on our mobility, autonomous vehicles, new fuels or applications of surprising mobility based on the Internet of Things, and the list is still long! Access to “WeAreMobility” is included in the Auto Show ticket.

More careful development of autonomous vehicles

The development of cooperative vehicle-infrastructure systems will promote the development of autonomous driving.

Over the next two to three years, new technological developments are expected in certain business areas, such as logistics and transport, with fixed-route public transport and unmanned deliveries for traders and organizations.

Written by Junaid Ali Qureshi

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