1) Potential for fuel savings and emission reductions

  • Platooning of trucks, shared ride vehicles
  • May happen before new fuels or other tech, so is potentially the fastest avenue to GHG reductions

 2) Potential for VMT reduction, or risk of an increase if poorly implemented

  • Less car ownership, possibly causing: additional trips in emitting cars and/or increase in shared ride systems
  • Huge impact on our frequent partners in Transit.  How will their operations and their vehicles change in an autonomous future?

 3) Linkage to alternative drivetrains, EVs and Hybrids

  • CAV technology needs electric sub-systems, so synergy with EVs, and PHEVs.
  • Image of future tech aligns with EVs and Fuel Cells
  • Potential for wireless charging and/or in-road charging

As with any new technology, there are a number of new terms that come with the new capabilities.  Because this is so new, even within the industry these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, leading to confusion.  Here is a basic outline of the key terms, with the caveat that we still have to ensure the terms mean what we think they mean in a given situation.

ADAS – Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

This acronym is commonly used to cover a variety of specific systems that assist the driver in avoiding a collision, or simplifying the driving task.  Note that none of these systems require connections to anything outside of the car – all the sensors and data for the systems are collected by devices on the vehicle itself.  These systems are becoming more and more available today – even non-luxury cars are offering some of these capabilities, due to their safety benefits.

  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) – if you drift out of a lane without having a turn signal on, the system will send an alert, but it will not move the car back for you.
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) – The system alerts you AND controls the steering to move the vehicle back into the lane and keep it there.
  • Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) – the system will alert the driver if the vehicle is approaching something that it could hit, like a stationary car or suddenly braking car.  If no action is taken, or reaction is too slow, there can be Brake Assist, that applies greater braking force than the driver may have requested, and in some more advanced systems there is Automatic Braking, where the system itself applies the brakes to try and avoid a collision or reduce (mitigate) the impact.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) – Using the same sensors as for the collision mitigation, the vehicle can control the throttle and brakes to maintain a set distance from the car in front, so a set speed can be maintained, or the speed adjusted to suit traffic.  Some systems will bring a car to a complete stop, then move ahead again when the vehicle in front moves ahead (often called Traffic Jam Assist).  The driver is still required to steer the car, but not control throttle or brakes.


Remember this key point:  Automation DOES NOT EQUAL Autonomous.

AUTONOMOUS means a vehicle that can drive itself in any situation with no human intervention. In SAE terms (see the SAE Standards chart) this would be a Level 5 system.  We are still some years away from fully autonomous vehicles.

AUTOMATION means that some aspects of the overall dynamic task of driving a car have been automated – responsibility is removed from the human driver.  This could mean throttle or brakes, or steering.


Broadly, connected means “connected to the Internet.”  But it is not necessary for a car to be connected to the Internet for it to be considered a connected vehicle.

  • V2V – Vehicle to Vehicle connectivity: The capability for a vehicle to communicate (two-way, wirelessly) with other vehicles nearby
  • V2I – Vehicle to Infrastructure connectivity: the capability for a vehicle to communicate (two-way, wirelessly) with the roadway, road signs, and other infrastructure such as a computer network, company headquarters, or traffic control system.

LiDAR – Pronounced “lye-dar” – Light Distance And Ranging.  Basically this is the same as radar, but using a laser beam instead of radio waves.  LiDAR is the little bubblegum dome on top of the Google car.  A laser beam projector spins 360 degrees at a fast rate, shining a laser around the car, and sensors pick up the bounced back light to create an image of what is surrounding the vehicle.  Lidar can be a back-up or redundant system to radar.

GVR – Ground Vehicle Robotics (as distinct from things like airborne drones or aircraft autopilots)

Cybersecurity – the aspects of ensuring communications over the internet and other electronic systems are protected from unauthorized entry or manipulation.  Generally, this means preventing “hacking” by malicious “bad actors”.  Obviously, cybersecurity is related to safety, as insecure communications can jeopardize safety.

Sensor Fusion – The critical element in automation of driving, implemented through computer processors and software.  The inputs from cameras, LiDAR, Radar, and other sensors has to be integrated and compared, to ensure the surroundings are correctly “seen” by the car.  Each type of sensor has different response times, qualities, strengths and weaknesses so the ability to quickly and correctly create a “fusion” of those inputs into a single “view” that can be used to guide what the vehicle does is highly complex and also essential to safety and effectiveness.

The following list of companies have made significant efforts in ADAS and CAV systems:


Continental – automated passenger vehiclesautomated trucks and buses



The Society of Automotive Engineers

In the world of vehicle cybersecurity, a number of companies are seeing the opportunity, and a few have specialized in that area:


Security Innovations


Southwest West Research Institute

Booz Allen

Contact us to learn more about this project.