Driverless or autonomous cars have been a hot topic in recent years and promise to revolutionise road transport in the not-so-distant future. The EU-funded OFAV (Open intelligent systems for future autonomous vehicles) project envisioned an open architecture for future autonomous vehicles. It designed a standard platform that all carmakers can share in order to build the next generation of intelligent vehicles. Specifically, the project developed a 360-degree sensorial suite that comprises perceptual and decision-making components that not only support autonomous driving but also supervise driver behaviour. It built a perception module that collects sensor data of the environment around the vehicle, including road position, lane markings, drivable areas, traffic signs, pedestrians, vehicles and obstacles. The perception module also includes vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure subsystems, boosting the vehicle's sensing capabilities. In addition, OFAV designed a module that decides how the vehicle moves, taking into consideration the environment, road and mission. It integrated the new architecture on an already existing vehicle prototype named BRAiVE, as well as on five electric minivans. Armed with cameras, laser scanners and computers that were also powered by solar energy, four of these vans were employed as real test vehicles in a cross-country test case. Particularly, in 2010, the team tested the minivans in different weather and traffic conditions on a 'world tour', travelling from Italy through the Balkans, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan, all the way to China. In 2013, an upgraded version was successfully tested in an urban environment in Italy, marking a new era for autonomous driving development in Europe. Information on the experiments is available on the VIAC and PROUD websites. The success achieved through OFAV is considered a turning point in the field of autonomous driving on a global scale. Car manufacturers and suppliers have expressed profound interest in the project's research. Thanks to its outputs, Europe's automotive sector remains at the forefront of innovation and technology, paving the way for adoption of autonomous vehicles in the future. The OFAV Project was also followed by a Proof-of-Concept ERC project which deployed a new technology for obstacle detection and more generally 3D perception onboard vehicles. The 3DV-E (Three Dimension Vision – Embedded version) is based on an FPGA and two stereo cameras and provides 3D measurements of road scenarios in real time.
Driverless cars, autonomous vehicles, OFAV, driving, BRAiVE, electric minivans, VIAC