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TOPIC: Self-driving tow cars?

Self-driving tow cars? 2 months 1 day ago #425587

  • LizziePope
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Practical Caravan's tow car expert David Motton has been considering the future of towing. Click here to read his latest blog!
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Self-driving tow cars? 2 months 1 day ago #425589

  • Parksy
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I'd feel uncomfortable with the lack of control and if the 'driver' had to keep their hands on the wheel there's not much point in a driverless vehicle.
Self driving tow vehicles are unlikely to become commonplace while I still have a driving licence, but even if they were I wouldn't want one.
If caravan manufacturers could come up with a caravan that sets itself up on a pitch, erects the awning and makes a cup of tea afterwards however, I'd be first in the queue. :lol:
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Self-driving tow cars? 2 months 1 day ago #425590

  • KeefySher
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My current car has some of the autonomous systems, the new one even more :P

I tend to use them mostly on long journeys involving motorways and main roads, solo and towing. However when on twisty country roads if you let the systems drive the car, the ride for passengers is not a comfortable one. e.g. if the traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and 3D mapping are applied the car travels at what it detects is a constant speed. The reality is unlike a human driving in that a human will reduce speed in corners, lift the throttle to approach speed limits without applying the brakes, accelerate gradually. With the systems switched on, the car brakes heavily into reduced speed limits, accelerates hard out of them and corners at constant speed throwing rear seat passengers around. The intelligent lighting system is a boon though.

As advances are made the systems will get better no doubt.

The main issues noticed when using the systems mentioned above is when the car brakes hard and later than I do, the following, often tailgating drivers get a rude awakening, in lower speed limits where the system sticks to the speed limit posted you often get headlights flashing, cars overtaking and lots of middle finger gesticulation from other road users who don't follow the rules. When the system accelerates to the increased posted limit when towing, lower powered manually driven cars often get stuck on the wrong side of the road as traffic approaches as they've thought a caravan can't accelerate that quickly :ohmy:

The new car will have lots more systems to learn of. The one most looking forward to is the radar control to set the distance between it and the vehicle in front. So the 2 second rule will be interesting!! who will jump in the gap?? and will the following manually driven car determine if the system intervenes.

The auto braking to prevent collisions will be fun. The rear brake lights auto dim, and an extra rear light is illuminated when stationary at traffic lights or in a queue to reduce glare but also provide more, not brighter light to indicate the vehicle is stopped. The drive pilot is there too. It'll still make coffee like the current car.

Interesting times ahead :P
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Self-driving tow cars? 2 months 1 day ago #425591

  • EH52ARH
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Parksy wrote:
If caravan manufacturers could come up with a caravan that sets itself up on a pitch, erects the awning and makes a cup of tea afterwards however, I'd be first in the queue. :lol:

Parksy, Is't that called visiting frieds pitched near to home, :P
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Self-driving tow cars? 2 months 1 day ago #425594

  • Raywood
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I am not even happy as a passenger with someone else driving as I need to keep control. I cannot imagine letting a computer steer it. I do wonder how it would cope with having to allow for the extra length and width of a caravan when manouvering although I can see no problem with the additional weight which should be easy enough to program in. Not sure though if a trailer might cause problems for the rear sensors.
I do think a car with complete control must be a long way off. It does seem easy enough to see on a motorway with just overtaking being all it needs to worry about . In town with pulling out of junctions and dealing with blind corners coming up I do think there will be problems.
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Self-driving tow cars? 2 months 1 day ago #425597

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Raywood wrote:
I am not even happy as a passenger with someone else driving as I need to keep control. I cannot imagine letting a computer steer it. I do wonder how it would cope with having to allow for the extra length and width of a caravan when manouvering although I can see no problem with the additional weight which should be easy enough to program in. Not sure though if a trailer might cause problems for the rear sensors.
I do think a car with complete control must be a long way off. It does seem easy enough to see on a motorway with just overtaking being all it needs to worry about . In town with pulling out of junctions and dealing with blind corners coming up I do think there will be problems.

I understand the new Discovery when it arrives has a trailer function that determines the size of the towed unit, be it a boat, caravan, trailer etc and use cameras to guide for manoeuvring, given the use of various cameras for 360 viewing and self parking, as well as via a phone app, it's just and extension to that technology. There is a graphical representation on the LR You Tube channel. VAG currently have a manoeuvring system with caravan hitched that in the case of Audi's uses the central gimme and display screen, the VW uses the mirror control in the drivers door. My current and new car determine load on the lowball from sensors connected into the air suspension. The new Disco has a weight sensor in the towball too. Active blind spot deploys radar in the rear quarter of the cars and also incorporates cameras in the rear.

Info on the new Disco is here:
live.landrover.co.uk/all-new-land-rover-...ry-towing-capability

A good example of Audi systems is here:


Practical caravan tested the VW caravan reversing application, here:


You tube has some excellent videos around the application of various sensor / camera technology in the towing and manoeuvring sphere. This one for electric deployable tow bar and guidance to hitch is a particular favourite of mine, my current Merc requires the lifting of a lever to deploy the towbar, then lock it by hand; an advancement by making it fully non manual:
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Self-driving tow cars? 2 months 16 hours ago #425608

  • Martin24
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Ideal for swmbo but no thanks from me, I want control of the unit.

Parksy, anytime you pitch up on the drive I'm sure J will put the kettle on while you lower the legs.
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Self-driving tow cars? 2 months 2 hours ago #425630

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Parksy, what a nice place M and J, have, especially the Wood burner. Drive in drive out. :)
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Self-driving tow cars? 1 month 4 weeks ago #425637

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Martin24 wrote:
Ideal for swmbo but no thanks from me, I want control of the unit.

Parksy, anytime you pitch up on the drive I'm sure J will put the kettle on while you lower the legs.

My ex wife lives near to Withernsea, so if I ever go past that way to have a look at my long lost money I might take you up on the offer of a cuppa Martin :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Self-driving tow cars? 1 month 4 weeks ago #425639

  • JonnyG
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OK so we have had computer electronics in cars for a couple of decades now to help transportation make vehicles safer and more reliable...hahaha .sorry i had to laugh as all we've really done is made vehicles more complex .complex to run and complex to fix. oh how i recall how the modern ECU units would revolutionize motoring .. umm have had to learn as much as i can about electronics and the pathways they take and use have had to learn and understand as best as i can how the complex systems really work .why? i'm not a mechanic but these days a fault is diagnosed using the diagnostic port with mechanics taking the info given to them to fix whatever the problem is... Problem is far too often its never as simple as it seems and.electronic gremlins can be a nightmere to properly identify,even when you've used the diagnostic port and followed its info. parts are changed you are told its fixed and a day or two later the problem is back... now some would say thats down to poor mechanics maybe thats true sometimes but some is down to the complexity of how modern electronics are entwined into each other....So self drive cars that relies on sensors ,sensors that can and will fail all run by computers designed by men or women ummm ..no thanks i'll keep control if you don't mind.....
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