Safran contributes to the development of autonomous vehicles
Why did Safran decide to team up with the car-equipment manufacture Valeo on this autonomous car project?
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Pierre Fabre, Senior Executive VP. R&T and Innovation
Valeo and Safran work in extremely complementary technological fields. As a leader in the field of photonics, Valeo manufactures components that generate, transmit and process visual signals. Safran is a leading manufacturer of navigation and optronic systems, two fields that combine optical technologies and electronic systems. These disciplines are essential for developing autonomous vehicles, which can drive themselves without any human involvement. Our two groups decided to pool our expertise and assets in order to place French industry at the cutting-edge of technology in the fields of driving aids and autonomous driving. The joint research carried out since 2013 resulted in the creation of an autonomous car called "Drive4U". The technologies we developed for this vehicle could ultimately be applied to other products, such as drones or land-based defense vehicles. Moreover, we have taken our partnership further; we have created a joint Research Chair in conjunction with the PSA Peugeot-Citroën automotive Group at the "École des Mines ParisTech".
What expertise does the Group call on to develop this kind of vehicle?
One of Safran's key contributions is the Group's expertise in the field of safety. The Drive4U autonomous vehicle has a facial-recognition system developed by Morpho (Safran), drawing on the latest developments in image recognition. This technology identifies the driver and checks that he or she is authorized to drive the vehicle. It also analyzes eye and face movements to check that the driver is paying attention to the road. We are also contributing our expertise in the inertial unit field for the vehicle's location system. The advantage of our technology is that it provides an autonomous navigation system, which can operate in a tunnel, for example. The aim is to link this system to the GPS in order improve geolocation. Valeo developed a vision sensor - the 360°-view camera. Moreover, we are extremely interested in its potential application on military vehicles.
What is the outlook as regards the development of autonomous vehicles?
One of the key challenges for the future is to build user confidence in this form of transport. This means guaranteeing optimum safety. On the other hand, the technologies we are developing with Valeo could be adapted to different applications: for example, we are looking into systems that would enable planes to identify obstacles on the runway.
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