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Latin America enters the era of the autonomous car


As the most autonomous car produced in the region, Jeep Compass points to the future

November 7, 2018 - Produced at the Jeep Automotive Plant in Goiana (PE, Brazil), the Jeep Compass is the most autonomous car ever made in Latin America. This road is just getting started, and the legislation itself still needs to be updated to allow more autonomous vehicles to circulate. But it's good to know that you already have the option of driving a car that helps you with such a task. In the case of the Compass, which is at level 1 automation, it works as follows: when you drive it, you can choose to let the car take care of the pedals for you while you take care of the steering wheel. That's right: the car accelerates and brakes by itself! For this, you simply need to choose the speed that you would like to develop and the car does its best to achieve that goal, respecting the cars that travel around you (you also choose the distance you prefer to maintain from the car in front of you). When parking, you can choose the opposite function: let the car do the steering while you take care of the pedals. In this case, the Compass itself tells you when you should change gears, accelerate or brake. It's the future knocking at your door!

But what is this "level 1 automation" all about? It’s the first step in the division of the SAE International rating table, which refers to the six levels of autonomous steering, or five. That’s because level 0 is reserved for common, non-autonomous vehicles. Even cars with automatic transmission and collision warning sensors, for example, are still considered level 0, because what characterizes an autonomous car is the steering. Check the infographic at the end of the text to see how we can classify cars that already have autonomous steering technologies.

Autonomous steering has many benefits. The main one is perhaps reducing accidents (both the number of accidents and the severity of the accidents, since 90% of them are caused by human error). Another benefit is the economy of both time and fuel. Autonomous cars consume, on average, about 40% less fuel compared to the average consumption of a human driver.

Levels 4 and 5 also have the potential to give you back an average of 56 minutes of your day for those of you who drive today, in addition to reducing traffic jams by up to 80% in cities. And there is one more benefit: it's the greatest democratization in the use of the car, because people of all ages and physical conditions can "drive" one without even having a license.


Jeep Compass

With ADAS (Advanced driver-assistance systems), the Compass offers a number of autonomous steering capabilities. Among them, there is the Emergency Braking, in which the vehicle has a sensor that monitors traffic. In the event of vehicle exposure to some type of risk, the system springs into action with the brakes, issuing an alert to the driver and, automatically, reducing the stopping time. The system has two modes of operation: up to 40 km/h the car will have a more abrupt stop. Anything over this speed and a slightly softer brake will be perceived. "This is a matter of safety, since there could be a car right behind or even as to not let the passenger suffer a major impact. Thus, it's a more reduced way of stopping", says Rodrigo Amaral, leader of FCA's Automotive Engineering project for Latin America. According to Amaral, after stopping, the system secures the vehicle for two seconds in order to ensure that the driver can regain control of the car. "It's important to remember that this feature only detects vehicles that are going in the same direction, and doesn't work with oncoming traffic", he adds.

The Compass also offers the possibility for the driver to couple automatic acceleration with braking. It's the so called Adaptive Cruise Control, which we mentioned above. "The chosen distance and speed are maintained in an adaptive way. In addition to this action, to keep the safe distance selected, the vehicle will also slow down if the car ahead reduces speed", says Rodrigo.


In order not to let a distracted driver slide out of his/her lane while on the road and to avoid any risks, the Compass offers a lane change warning feature. The car has sensors that monitor what's ahead so that as the driver unintentionally invades another lane, the system gives the driver a warning to alert him/her to bring the car back to right track. The intensity of the "warning", says Rodrigo, can be customized. "The driver will feel a vibration in the steering wheel and a slight move of the car returning to the lane. In this situation, it's possible to determine the force applied to the steering wheel: whether low, medium or high. Even with respect to sensitivity, the driver can choose whether the system should warn when he/she is on top of the lane, going over it or even before going over it", he explains. In the event that the change of lane is intentional, such as passing a vehicle, it will detect it and won´t interfere the driver with the maneuver.

The feature that helps you park is the Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist, a standard in the 2019 versions of the Compass Limited and Trailhawk. Basically, the system can detect places to park and controls, for the driver, all the maneuvering. The driver is responsible for controlling the acceleration, the brakes and gear as required on the dashboard.


In addition, the Compass also assists the driver when leaving the parked spot. Simply select 'exit' and the car will guide you as to how to proceed so that the vehicle can leave the parking space and position itself for driving on the road.

In order to present the Jeep Compass’ level of automation, FCA held a TechnoDay at the Jeep Automotive Plant in Goiana (PE), which gathered automotive journalists to do a test drive on the development tracks and get a closer look at how the autonomous steering technologies of the best-selling SUV in Brazil work. During the event, the guests were also able to see the versions of the Jeep Compass 2019, which will be sold starting in November.

As we said, the Park Assist technology is a standard feature in the Limited and Trailhawk models. The other autonomous steering technologies are part of the High Tech option package. In addition to the Park Assist, the Limited version also features standard new 19 inch rim wheels and Remote Start (which allows you to power the car from a distance). Prices for this version start from R$ 142,490 (Flex) and R$ 171,490 (Diesel). Trailhawk, the top of the line, also features a two-tone roof. This version starts at R$ 171,490.


Future

So, what can we expect for the future? At this point, FCA and other companies are working to reach the next levels of autonomous driving and make them available for marketing. The new heavy RAM pickup truck, which will be launched next year at the Detroit Motor Show (USA), will have a level 2 autonomy. The Jeep Compass will reach level 3 in 2021, just three years from now. Alfa Romeo plans to launch six new levels 2 and 3 vehicles by 2022, which will also have electric propulsion.

"The autonomous cars are coming and FCA is a reference in Brazil. The Jeep Compass is the first SUV produced in Brazil with a good level of autonomy", says Ricardo Dilser, FCA's technical advisor for Latin America. "The time needed to develop a car is extensive. The automotive industry has to anticipate. We can't expect the market to generate demand and expectations in order to serve it. We need to be a step ahead. And this is a characteristic at FCA: to be innovative. We bring this characteristic in all the brands of the group and we always work anticipating the technologies", he affirms.

FCA has the strategy of working with multiple partners in the development of autonomous technologies such as Waymo, the BMWGroup (with Intel and Mobileye) and Aptiv. Our partnership with Aptiv will allow us to introduce into the market more level 2 cars and up as of 2020. From 2021 on, the partnership with the BMWGroup will increase the offer of level 3+ vehicles. The partnership with Waymo already offers the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid level 4 minivans, a technology that's expanding more and more (62,000 minivans will be available between 2018 and 2021 for this partnership). Level 4 and 5 cars are foreseen for commercialization as of 2023.

At the same time, FCA is also developing a new global connectivity standard to connect cars to cloud internet. This is essential for autonomous driving at high levels and also allows drivers and passengers to interact with the car and the surrounding world, contributing to improve safety and availability of real-time information and services.

"The technological future of FCA is guaranteed", says Dilser. "What we need to understand now are the market demands and issues related to the use of autonomous cars, such as infrastructure and legislation. The fact is that FCA already owns the automation technology. That is, we are already prepared for the future and we are waiting for the next steps within the sectors that surround us so we can make our move. "


Text: Daniel Schneider and Isabela Alves

Pictures: Marketing

Art: Marília Castelli