Driverless Car Safety – New Mathematical Model to Secure Connected Cars

Driverless car safety has been the main and sometimes feels the only topic of the field in 2017. From the legal aspects to the actual technical implementation, we have to conclude that’s not a minor problem we are discussing.

But it does feel that we’ve been more focused, in media at least, on who we will blame when an accident accords, rather than focusing on blinds spots systems and implementing proper tires.

That’s why I feel it is mandatory to discuss what Intel and Mobileye have developed for the driverless car safety:

The New Mathematical Model for Safe Distance

Intel, Mobileye and BMW are working together to improve the safety issues for the automated cars. In their effort, they have come with a new formula for calculating the minimal safe distance the vehicle should keep, namely:


To better understand this formula here are all the variables:

  • L –  the average length of the autonomous vehicle
  • Tf – the time for the front car to reach full stop
  • Tr – the time for the rear car to reach full stop
  • p – the response time of the vehicle in the rear
  • Vr – is the velocity of the car in the rear
  • Vf – is the velocity of the car in the front
  • aa – maximum acceleration
  • ab – maximum deceleration (when braking).

What it means is that the autonomous car will implement this distance around it from the front and rear car. If the distance is violated, it is not because of the driverless car safety. It will calculate this distance and will not make any command to violate it.

Of course, in real life, nothing is as clean as on paper. Meaning, all these information needed in the calculus is coming from sensors and other algorithms the driverless car safety system has to take this information for the rear and front vehicle.

But in any case, these are more precise than the physical perspectives of any experienced driver.

Why Present the Driverless Car Safety Algorithm?

We understand that an autonomous car has 360-degree vision and capability to precisely determine the velocity, distance and orientation of close objects and people. This means they can make better decisions when it comes to driving safely. Potentially, these vehicles can save lives.

But that is not the general understanding and opinion. Kathy Winter, VP and general manager of Intel’s automated driving solutions division, is actually worried there isn’t a societal acceptance of the driverless car safety.

She’s right to worry. A report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute has shown in May only 15% of responders would be happy with completely self-driving cars.

This will only hinder and delay actually having the driverless car safety system operating in the new cars we buy in the nearest future.

The Steps Further

The industry is constantly evolving with the sensor system incorporated in autonomous cars, to the algorithm for determining environment information and decision making and now even with the regulations and policies.

It seems the only aspect left is the trust of the end user in the technology. There are fears, concerning the safety of these vehicles, which media coverage and education don’t seem to put at ease.

Vehicle manufacturers have announced they are focused on designing the models in order to give the buyer a sense of comfort and ease in the integrated technology.

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But the real question is:

Are they addressing the right people?

It’s hard to change the idea of millions of people who have already been through the process of being in the driver’s seat. They have the abilities, skills and know the responsibility it bears.

They are the ones who will need a process which will include a hybrid option of partially self-driving.

The driverless car safety system will be most appreciated, in my opinion, by those who, in this moment, can’t drive. It’s the ability to extend the freedom of mobility to more segments of the market.

I feel that’s where the early adoption of the technology will come from. But in the meanwhile, manufacturers still have a long journey ahead.

Philipp Kandal