NEW TECH OFFERS SMOOTH RIDE
By TA News Bureau:
From a dedicated researcher on tyres, vehicle dynamics and road friction, Dr Ari Tuononen has emerged as a tech CEO who wants to ensure autonomous vehicle makers safe mobility in any difficult condition. As the founder of solution providing firm RoadCloud, he constantly researches products and offers services that enable accurate and accident-free reliability of transportation. His Helsinki (Finland)-based high-tech firm is dedicated to developing technologies that will enable self-driving vehicles ride on all kinds of roads and reach their destination without incidents
One of the key problems facing developers of fully autonomous cars is to turn them into vehicles that will never meet with accidents. Making crash-proof vehicles requires fool-proof anti-collision measures and constant monitoring of tyre safety conditions. It calls for incredibly sophisticated software that mines mountains of data. RoadCloud founded by Dr Ari Tuononen seamlessly delivers these enabling technologies.
He set up the Helsinki (Finland)-based enterprise to address one of the most challenging problems facing the global automobile industry today. Engineers are struggling to develop vehicles that are able to identify upcoming road conditions and steer ahead without incidents. “Currently, many active safety systems on cars suffer from unknown road friction issues. These vary constantly according to road and weather conditions,” says Dr Tuononen. “While this deficiency is often tolerated because the driver is human, but it is totally unacceptable for self-driving cars,” he says in an interview to Tyre Asia.
He says road friction estimation is one of the key enabling technologies for driverless vehicles and connected road traffic. The idea is to combine road and tyre information to take road safety to a completely new level.
Says the former Academy Research Fellow at Aalto University, the prestigious Finnish engineering institution: “RoadCloud provides dedicated hardware that is installed on vehicle fleets to collect the Big Data that is then mined to develop refined information products that are useful for autonomous driving, road maintenance or traffic information systems.”
Emphasis on safety
The focus of top vehicle makers is to continually develop active safety system to identify road and tyre conditions that constantly vary influenced as they are by unpredictable road and weather conditions. Dr Tuononen asserts that road friction estimation is one of the most critically important enabling technologies for autonomous and connected road traffic.
He is speaking from his years of intense research on tyres and vehicle dynamics. He had headed a research group at Aalto University that delivered outstanding results: nearly 100 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference papers and four instructed PhD’s in five years. He has spent several years of research to refine the ideas and concepts that has gone into the heart of RoadCloud’s operations.
RoadCloud products are evolved from data that are required for autonomous driving and the future of mobility. “Our experience in academic research, automotive industry and Information Communication Technology (ICT) provides a strong foundation to deliver on our mission: Make roads safer.”
RoadCloud has developed a unique technology that continuously collects multiple real-time data streams from vehicle fleets and sends them to its data cloud where the algorithms that it has developed create real-time road and traffic information for its customers.
Commercial fleet can benefit from RoadCloud’s unique networked services that are way ahead of traditional fleet tracking. Vehicle data, collected from the fleets, gives a realistic feedback on how the road affects the vehicles and thus the road users. In addition to autonomous driving, the data stream can be adopted into traffic information and road maintenance systems to create new opportunities in the field of mobility.
Dr Tuononen, who was vehicle dynamics group leader at Aalto University, elaborates his vision thus: “Our unique business model adds value for both our information customers and for our fleet partners. The technology is here today and we are eager to increase our service coverage to new cities, countries and continents. Currently we have pilot service coverage in southern Finland, but we are looking for international pilot projects.”
RoadCloud is currently in talks with venture capital investors to fund its future growth. “We welcome new contacts in this area as well,” says Dr Tuononen.
The unique advantages of RoadCloud are that it has brought on to a common platform the research and intellectual repository of years of intensive study on tyre-road friction and vehicle dynamics. Dr Tuononen has also gained hands-on experience while working for Goodyear R&D in Luxembourg, where he has been credited with breakthrough research in optimising tyre performance such as for emergency braking situations. He was nominated as an Academy Research Fellow (2014-2019) and founded RoadCloud in 2014.
He developed the minimum viable product (MVP) by himself and programed every single line of code for firmware, back-end and map-based front-end. He also attracted the first paying customers in 2015.Since its founding, RoadCloud fleet has been collecting data and adding to its expanding database.
Dr Tuononen says in addition to autonomous driving, RoadCloud provides information which can be adopted into traffic information and road maintenance systems thereby creating new opportunities in the field of mobility.
“When RoadCloud friction estimate is integrated into a collision mitigation system such as auto emergency braking, the crash energy decreases up to 80 per cent on icy road,” he says. In addition to friction estimate, his company also provides other valuable information for connected cars. “We plan to provide our services on dedicated winter climate proving grounds,” he says.
RoadCloud has also developed products for road maintenance: Vehicle data collected from its fleets gives a realistic feedback on how the road affects the vehicles and thus the road users.
For those who are planning road repairs, what the company offers will enable improved performance on the back of sophisticated data collected throughout the year. Instant maintenance can be distributed quickly and efficiently with the help of real-time road network monitoring.
Winter is harsh not only for the road network and its users but also for the road keepers. “Distributing maintenance such as de-icing and snow removal to where it is needed can be a challenging task with limited resources,” he says. “Real-time information from the road, collected at the time when the decisions are made, helps this task considerably resulting in cost savings and improved safety.”
RoadCloud can assess accurately travel times, rush hour hotspots and monitor the effect of unforeseen disturbance on arrival times. “These are possible because we collect highly valuable information for navigation, travel planning and traffic information systems,” he says.
Dr Tuononen’s vision and mission is to make roads safer.