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Autonomous driving is one of the technologies that will have a significant impact on our lives in the future. It isn’t just about comfort and ease-of-use, but particularly about safety. Which is why the stated goal of the technology is Vision Zero, meaning a world without traffic fatalities. At TÜV SÜD, we’re developing the appropriate methods to get self-driving cars safely onto the streets to achieve exactly this goal. We asked Christian Gnandt, Highly Automated Driving Division Manager at TÜV SÜD some questions about the current market situation, his challenges in the field of automated driving and future plans at TÜV SÜD.
C. Gnandt: Autonomous driving is one of the important pioneering technologies of our time with a very specific goal: Vision Zero, that is, a world without traffic fatalities. TÜV SÜD is developing methods to bring self-driving vehicles onto the road safely – and is playing an instrumental role in transforming this vision into a reality. This is fascinating as well as something that personally provides me with inspiration every day.
C. Gnandt: That can be answered quickly: For me, it's about being internationally relevant as a business line and always guaranteeing the quality of our work. And above all doing something very meaningful every day by contributing to the progress towards achieving Vision Zero.
“This includes projects that involve functional safety and cybersecurity assessments in addition to the actual approval.”
C. Gnandt: Generally, we support our customers in the approval and release of their vehicles. This includes projects that involve functional safety, cybersecurity and connectivity assessments in addition to the actual approval. Our tasks also involve testing vehicles, with reliance on a combination of real driving tests as well as tests in a virtual environment. We just completed two other exciting projects in which we evaluated the safety of self-driving vehicles from Mobileye in Germany and from Motional in the United States.
C. Gnandt: We frequently have to deal with questions such as: What happens after a software update? Or what will the main inspection look like in the future? We contribute TÜV SÜD’s perspective in international standardization bodies and organizations such as IAMTS as well as in working groups of the UNECE, the EU, and the association of TÜV organizations, TÜV Verband. We are therefore also aware of future regulations and can continuously adapt our safety inspection methods. We also work directly with several governments to create the framework for digital approval and the vehicle inspection process for the vehicles of tomorrow.
C. Gnandt: In the VVM (Verification, Validation, Methods) funding project, which runs until 2023, 24 partners from the German automotive industry are represented - manufacturers, suppliers as well as research institutes. We are the only technical service. It's about autonomous driving in an urban environment. TÜV SÜD is leading the Simulation project group together with the German Aerospace Centre. As a result, we ensure the deployment from simulation to vehicle release and can use the results from the project directly for safety assessment which is one key pillar for successful type approval and homologation of highly automated vehicles.
"Currently, the challenge lies primarily in the rapid and continuous technological development of autonomous driving."
C. Gnandt: Currently, the challenge lies primarily in the rapid and continuous technological development of autonomous driving. This means that we, too, must continue to develop and adapt our methods at all times, while at the same time we do not measure our success predominantly by the development of our services. This is the only way we can remain a relevant technology partner for our customers sustainably. We have laid the foundations for this in recent years, also with a high global presence. Outside Germany, we already have customer projects in South Korea, China, Japan, Singapore, the Czech Republic, Israel and the USA.
C. Gnandt: Definitely! For the first time ever, it will not only be theoretically about vehicles that take full responsibility in road traffic. Admittedly, we have not yet reached the point where you can sit in the back seat and let yourself be driven from A to B. But a traffic jam pilot alone would be a real highlight. But a traffic jam pilot alone would be real progress. Swiping through the news app and writing messages instead of stop and go in rush hour traffic? A new regulation by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe will lay the groundwork for this. And I admit: I hope that we can get this technology on board as soon as possible, and not only in my professional capacity.
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