- 从“古董汽车”到“自动驾驶”：1956 款通用 Firebird II 概念车已经搭载了一套车载“指引”系统，可进行无人驾驶操作。（图片来源：通用汽车）
回顾过去 100 多年的汽车发展历史，我们可以清楚看到，自动驾驶绝非最近才出现的新奇技术。
By Erika Anden & Lindsay Brooke
在汽车行业中，很多工程师都喜欢说，汽车电气化“已有百年历史，可直到现在电池还没找好”。这只是一句玩笑，但是当今许多“先进”技术确实都植根于几十年前就已经出现的概念中。举个例子，与最早的速度控制 (1916 年) 和远程控制汽车（1920 年代初）相比，动力转向系统也只能算的上是新鲜事物。
每年，来自世界各地参与SAE 全球汽车年会(WCX) 的技术发烧友们，都不会错过由我们交通运输工具历史委员会(Mobility History Committee)举办的系列活动。委员会主席MartinRowell表示，无论是在WCX学习实验室以“未来的历史（The History of the Future）”的演讲报告上，还是展厅中一辆辆稀有珍贵的先锋车展车，我们都不难发现，今年他们开始将注意力集中在 “通往自动驾驶技术实现之路”上的重要里程碑上。
“经过一个世纪以来的创新，我们开始计划真正推出自动驾驶汽车，这不再只是未来学家的美丽愿望。事实上，我们现在已经可以在公共道路上看到一些具有自动驾驶功能的车辆了。” Rowell 主席指出，“如今，未来世界中的自动驾驶汽车已经触手可及，一切都将随之改变。不过，我们又是如何一步步走到这里的呢？”
“自动驾驶汽车实现之路”展览中展出了自动驾驶技术发展历程中一些极具里程碑意义的重要车型。此外，交通运输工具历史委员会还在三层的会议室中举办了多个技术会议，主题包括“早期汽车空气动力学和精简设计”(Early Automotive Aerodynamics & Streamlining)、“第一次世界大战中的自由卡车”(the WWI Liberty Truck)；“汽车、文化与替代燃料蒸汽汽车”(Cars and Culture and the “Alt-fuel” Stanley Steamer)等。
从“古董汽车”到“自动驾驶”：1956 款通用 Firebird II 概念车已经搭载了一套车载“指引”系统，可进行无人驾驶操作。（图片来源：通用汽车）
1956款通用 Firebird II：搭载“自动指引”系统的“路上火箭”
通用Firebird 诞生于 1953 到 1959 年间，上图是通用 Motorama 概念车系列中的第 2 款（全部共 4 款，均命名为Firebird系列）。这款梦幻概念车采用钛材料车身及涡轮驱动动力系统，总设计师 Harley Earl 无疑受到了当时喷气式战斗机的启发。事实上，Earl 正是计划通过这四款 Firebird，将航空领域的最新设计和工程技术应用至福特的未来道路车辆研发中。
Firebird I 采用狭长设计，仅容一人乘坐，外形就像是一架没有机翼但又踩着四个轮子的喷气式飞机，而Firebird II 的车体则更宽，采用了如飞机驾驶舱一样的气泡型驾驶室，可容纳四人乘坐。这款 Firebird的设计非常先进，不但采用了当时在 1956 年非常尖端的钛金属板材，而且还搭载了一款输出马力高达 200 hp（150 kW）的内部研发涡轮发动机。这款发动机还支持余热回收功能，可以降低车辆尾部必须承受的极限高温，并同时为一些配件供电。特别值得一提的是，Firebird II 还配备了一套导航系统，可以引导车辆沿着公路中所埋电线发出的电信号行驶，进而实现自动驾驶的目的。
1912款凯迪拉克 Model 30：手摇曲柄消失
1912款 Model 30 是凯迪拉克首款采用查尔斯·凯特林发明的具有革命性的 Delco 电动启动器的内燃动力商用化汽车。正如宣传的一样，这款凯迪拉克绝对称得上一款改变游戏规则的车辆。Delco 启动器系统可为汽车的电池充电，进而为车辆的完整电气系统供电。凭借这款启动器，凯迪拉克一举去除了车辆的手摇曲柄，并抢占了所有电动汽车（当时很受欢迎）的最大优势——轻松利落的启动。
1916款 Scripps Booth Model C: 时尚的电动车
美国汽车制造商Scripps Booth 旗下的ModelC 经过专门设计，采用了一套电动设施和早期速度控制机制，可以让驾驶员在长途驾驶中让双脚适当休息。为了保持固定车速，驾驶员可借助方向盘中的控制杆将油门保持在固定位置，而且仅需轻踩刹车即可结束速度保持功能。这款交错式三座敞篷跑车还配备了一款电动启动器、电动门闩、电动头灯，以及“Klaxet”电动喇叭（可通过车辆方向盘中心的按钮直接控制）。
1918款 Detroit Electric：电动汽车的便利
1918款Detroit Electric 来自底特律汽车制造商 Anderson Electric Car 公司。这款很受欢迎电动汽车自 1907 年上市，并在 1939 年停产，产品寿命长达超过 30 年。车辆采用可反复充电的铅酸电池，最高时速为 20 英里/小时（32 公里/小时），在理想的热力学环境下，每次充满电续航里程为 80 英里（129 公里）。当时，AndersonElectric Car 汽车公司共生产了大约 13,000 辆Detriot Electric 电动汽车。
1940 款Olds Hydra-Matic：史上首款自动变速器
1940年，通用汽车的 Oldsmobile 品牌推出了世界上第一款搭配自动变速器的量产车。这款 Hydra-Matic 自动变速器可从驾驶员的手中（以及左脚）接过换挡任务，极大地推进了自动驾驶的发展历程。此后不久，凯迪拉克 (Cadillacs) 也推出了类似的自动变速器产品。这种新型自动变速器一经推出立刻大受欢迎 —— 通用汽车曾在二战之前售出了 20 万辆配备自动变速器的汽车。在二战期间，M5Stuart 和M24 Chaffee 轻型坦克也采用了 Hydra-Matic 自动变速器。通过与军方的合作，通用汽车的工程师也得以接触到一类最为独特的用户数据，这也帮助通用在战后时期大大提高了产品的自动化水平。
1960款凯迪拉克 Coupe DeVille：自动巡航系统的开山鼻祖
随着 1958款克莱斯勒 Imperial 的问世，现代巡航控制系统也首次进入世人的视线中。此后不久，这种新型控制系统又作为一种可选配置，登陆 1960 款凯迪拉克 Coupe DeVille。相较其他早期速度控制系统，巡航控制系统可使用旋转计速器，统计驱动轴的旋转，进而计算车辆的速度，并通过一款双向驱动电机，根据需求设定油门位置，性能已经取得了显著提升。
这种技术自 1958 年问世后得到了迅速发展。十年后，RCA公司推出了一款更新版本的“汽车电子巡航控制”(AutomotiveElectronic Cruise Control) 系统。新版本增加了一款数字存储器，这不但为巡航控制系统最终成功整合进入当时尚未问世的“电子道路事故避免系统”和“发动机控制器”奠定了基础，更是为当今自适应性巡航控制系统的诞生铺平了道路。
1988年 1 月，在通用汽车“合作与技术” (Teamwork and Technology)展览会上，这款长达 212.6 英寸（5.4 米）的凯迪拉克Voyage 可以满足现场观众对未来技术的所有期待！空气动力学？车辆的风阻系数仅为0.28Cd；主动车身架构？车辆的前轮裙可随着车身一起转动；先进照明系统？车辆配备了LED 尾灯和转向灯；传感器？车辆有后视摄像头。此外，这款 Voyage 还采用了“无钥匙入车”、语音识别，及搭配路线指引和彩色显示器的集成导航系统。记住，这所有让人惊叹的一切全部诞生于 1987 年。Voyage 的全轮驱动系统也同样让人印象深刻，官方声称这款车的最高时速可达 200 英里/小时（322 公里/小时）。
2007年，在一个纯人工模拟的城市环境下，一款经过改装的雪佛兰 Tahoe 借助自动驾驶系统，安全地行驶在公共道路上。这款Tahoe 不仅赢得了第三届 DARPA 挑战赛的冠军，更是创造了自动驾驶的历史。DARPA 挑战赛由美国国防部高级研究计划署举办，旨在推进自动驾驶地面车辆相关使能技术的开发。这款绰号“TheBoss”的雪佛兰卡车是卡内基梅隆大学和通用汽车公司携手合作的成果，当时的开发团队成员包括卡耐基梅隆大学的师生，及通用、卡特彼勒(Caterpillar)、大陆 (Continental) 和英特尔(Intel) 的工程师。
“TheBoss” 可以融合来自多个雷达、激光雷达和摄像头的数据，并集成了 GPS 和一款来自 MobileEye 的视觉系统，可以估算其他车辆、静态障碍物以及道路设施的位置，进而成功规划路线并实现自动驾驶。
2010款 EN-V Jiao：“滑板”电动车
从许多方面来看，这辆诞生于 2010 年的电动原型车都与最早期的电动汽车非常相似。与许多早期的电动汽车一样，EN-V 是一款专为城市出行而设计的两座电动汽车。经过 100 多年的进化和创新，EN-V 与早期电动汽车最大的区别在于，这是一辆自动驾驶汽车。
EN-V（即Electric NetworkedVehicle，电动联网汽车）的研发由通用先进研发部主管 Chris Boirroni-Bird 直接负责，是通用与全球著名电动平衡车制造商 Segway 合作研发的成果。这款车采用Borroni-Bird 和 Larry Burns 博士开发的紧凑型“滑板”平台，并搭配了Segway 的电机。EN-V内部集成了GPS、车载传感器和V2V 技术，其中很多都借鉴于DARPA 获奖作品“TheBoss”。
EN-V采用可充电锂离子电池供电，每次充电后至少可以行驶 25 公里（40 公里），且使用标准插座即可进行充电。
Automotive history is rife with examples that demonstrate autonomy is far from a new idea.
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While auto engineers like to quip that vehicle electrification “is a century old and still in search of a battery,” it’s no joke that many of today’s “advanced” technologies are rooted in concepts first explored decades ago. Compared with the earliest speed control (1916) and remotely controlled cars (early 1920s), for example, even power steering is a relatively new thing.
Technology enthusiasts at SAE's WCX event in Detroit each year never miss the activities of SAE’s Mobility History Committee. For 2018, the energetic group draws attention to milestones on the route to the self-driving future. It’s “The History of the Future” told in WCX Learning Lab presentations and displayed in the rare, pioneering vehicles on the show floor, according to MHC chair Martin Rowell.
“After more than a century of innovation we have begun planning the launch of self-driving cars. No longer a futurist pipe dream, we can already see autonomous functionality at work on public roads,” Rowell noted. “The car of the future is almost here, and it will change everything—but how did we get here?”
Milestone vehicles in the “Road to Autonomy” display showcase that evolution. Additionally, the MHC also will present Technical Sessions in a 3rd floor Conference Room covering Early Automotive Aerodynamics & Streamlining; the WWI Liberty Truck (see sidebar below); Cars and Culture and the “alt-fuel” Stanley Steamer.
1956 GM Firebird II: Self-guiding road rocket
This titanium-bodied, turbine-powered wondercar was the second in a quartet of Motorama concepts, all dubbed Firebird, developed by GM from 1953 to 1959. Design chief Harley Earl was clearly inspired by the jet fighter aircraft of the period. His aim with the four Firebirds was to meld the latest in aerospace design and engineering within GM’s future road-vehicle vision.
While Firebird I was a narrow single-seater—like a fighter fuselage on four wheels—the Firebird II was wider and accommodated four people within its bubble-canopied cockpit. Titanium sheet was cutting-edge material in 1956, and the 200 hp (150 kW) gas turbine developed in house featured exhaust-heat recovery—it helped reduce thermal extremes on the car’s tail while also powering the accessories. And Firebird II featured a guidance system that enabled the car to drive itself by following electric signals from wire embedded in the roadway.
1912 Cadillac Model 30: No more cranking
The 1912 edition of the Model 30 was the first commercially available ICE-powered vehicle with Charles Kettering’s revolutionary Delco electric starter. As its advertising indicated, this Caddy was a game changer. The Delco starter system charged the car’s battery and was used to power the full electrical system. In one fell swoop, Cadillac eliminated the hand crank and robbed all electric vehicles (which were popular then) of their greatest asset: easy and clean starting.
1916 Scripps Booth Model C: Electric posh
Designed for ease of use, the Model C included a suite of electric amenities and an early speed control mechanism designed to allow the driver’s foot to rest on long journeys. To maintain a fixed speed the driver set a lever in the steering wheel to hold the throttle in position. The mechanism was released with a tap on the brake pedal. This staggered three-seat roadster also featured an electric starter, electric door latches, electrical headlights, and an electric “Klaxet” horn operated by depressing a button in the center of the steering wheel.
1918 Detroit Electric: EV convenience
This early example of electric vehicle technology was produced by the Anderson Electric Car Co. in Detroit. Introduced in 1907 and discontinued in 1939, the Detroit Electric ran on rechargeable lead-acid batteries and had a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). Owners were able to squeeze 80 miles (129 km) from a single charge in ideal thermal conditions. The company produced approximately 13,000 examples of this popular and long-lived early EV.
1940 Olds Hydra-Matic: 1st automatic
In 1940 GM’s Oldsmobile division introduced the first commercially available car with an automatic transmission. The Hydra-Matic was a game changer on the road to autonomy by taking the task of shifting gears out of the driver’s hands (and left foot). Availability soon expanded to Cadillacs. The new automatic was an immediate hit—GM sold 200,000 cars so equipped prior to WWII. During wartime, the Hydra-Matic was installed in the M5 Stuart and M24 Chaffee light tanks. Military duty gave GM engineers access to a unique pool of user data that allowed them to greatly improve the automatic in the postwar period.
1960 Cadillac Coupe DeVille: Cruise pioneer
Modern cruise control was introduced to the world on the 1958 Chrysler Imperial and shortly thereafter released as an option on the 1960 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. This system represented a substantial improvement upon the earlier forms of speed control. By calculating the ground speed based on driveshaft rotations using the rotating speedometer cable, the system was able to set the throttle position as needed with a bi-directional screw drive electric motor.
Development of the technology proceeded rapidly following the release of the feature in 1958. A decade later, RCA introduced a new version called Automotive Electronic Cruise Control. This invention added a digital memory to the device, which eventually allowed cruise control to be integrated with the yet-to-be-invented electronic accident avoidance systems and engine controllers, paving the way for the Adaptive Cruise Control of today.
1988 Cadillac Voyage: VR visionary
Unveiled at GM’s ‘Teamwork and Technology’ show in January 1988, the Voyage (say it with a French accent) previewed a remarkable serving of future tech within its huge 212.6-in (5.4-m) body. Aerodynamics? 0.28 Cd. Active bodywork? The front wheel skirts moved with the steering. Advanced lighting? LED rear lights and turn signals. Sensors? Rearview camera. Plus keyless entry, voice recognition and integrated navigation with route guidance and color screen. All designed in 1987. Equally impressive was the Voyage’s all-wheel-drive system and claimed 200-mph (322 km/h) top speed.
2007 Chevrolet Tahoe: Autonomy “Boss”
This modified Chevy Tahoe made history in 2007 by safely and autonomously navigating a shared road in a simulated urban environment to win the third DARPA Grand Challenge. The event was created by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as platform to advance the technologies needed to develop autonomous ground vehicles. Nicknamed “The Boss,” the truck was a collaborative effort between Carnegie Mellon University and GM. The development team included CMU students and faculty, and engineers from GM, Caterpillar, Continental, and Intel.
Fusing data from multiple radars, lidar and cameras, a Position and Orientation System with integrated GPS and a MobileEye Vision System, the “Boss” successfully traversed the course by estimating the location of other vehicles, static obstacles, and the lay of the road.
2010 EN-V Jiao: ‘Skateboard’ EV
In many ways this 2010 prototype vehicle brings us back to where we began. Like the early electric cars, the EN-V is a two-seat, EV specifically designed for urban mobility. The biggest difference is that, as a product of over 100 years of evolution and innovation, the EN-V is an autonomous car.
Developed under GM’s head of advanced research, Dr. Chris Borroni-Bird, EN-V (electric networked vehicle) was a collaboration with gyroscopic-scooter maker Segway. It used the compact ‘skateboard’ platform concept developed by Borroni-Bird and Dr. Larry Burns, with Segway electric wheel motors. EN-V was embedded with a combination of GPS, vehicle-based sensors and V2V technology, much of which was extrapolated from the DARPA-winning “Boss” Tahoe.
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries provide power and enable the little pod to achieve a minimum of 25 mi (40 km) operating range per charge, at which point the batteries can be recharged using a standard outlet.
SAE on the Western Front
SAE expertise developed the famous Liberty Truck that pioneered standardized military vehicle design—and helped win WWI.
Soon after World War I began in 1914, motorized vehicles slowly entered military service, supplementing horse-drawn cargo wagons. By the time the U.S. entered the war in spring 1917, the Allies were operating dozens of different motor trucks, from dozens of makers, on the Western Front. Little if any parts commonality existed among any of them.
This situation created a service and logistics nightmare for the Allied armies. In Paris, an entire 12-story building with hundreds of clerks was dedicated to managing over 2 million component part numbers for the army motor vehicles then in use, according to Albert Mroz, author of American Military Vehicles of World War I, An Illustrated History (McFarland & Co., 2009).
Taking a page from Henry Ford’s well-known playbook, U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps planners moved quickly to develop specifications for a standardized truck design that could be produced rapidly by industry. The call to action was amplified by the influential trade journal The Automobile and Automotive Industries which editorialized, “For every hour of delay, men will die sudden and horrible deaths.” Presumably the writer meant death on the battlefield rather than in the parts office in Paris.
The young Society of Automobile Engineers played a major role in developing the standardized vehicle that soon became known as the Liberty Truck. A group of SAE members, mostly employed by truck makers and all ‘on loan’ from their companies, spearheaded the Liberty program. In August 1917, the 50-strong team began work to meet the Army’s specs. The aggressive production date was just six months away.
Trucks of two primary payload ratings were developed. The 1½-ton (1360-kg) model was called the Standard A. There was far greater demand for the larger 3- to 5-ton (2722-kg to 4536-kg) Standard B model with 160-in (4064-mm) wheelbase; it became the Liberty.
Meantime, 150 suppliers were engaged to produce the 7,500 parts in the bill of material. The Liberty’s powertrain featured a 4-cylinder, 424-in3 (6.9-L) gasoline engine, with cast aluminum crankcase and cast-iron cylinders and heads. Bore and stroke measured 4.75 x 6 in (121 x 152 mm). Supplied by engine makers Continental, Waukesha, and Wisconsin, the mammoth four generated 52 hp (39 kW). Spark was provided by two separate (magneto and battery type) ignition systems to ensure reliability.
A 4-speed transmission and worm-drive rear axle completed the robust driveline. Testing showed the unladen Standard B Liberty to be capable of 15 mph (24 km/h).
The Army selected 15 truck manufacturers, including famous marques Brockway, Diamond T, Packard and Pierce-Arrow, to produce the Standard B Liberty. Their factories began shipping the first of 7,500 Liberty Trucks to France in February 1918—about 11 weeks after development began.
Other OEMs not included in the program developed their own models for military use. Mack, for example, delivered over 6,000 of its famous AC “Bulldog” model, beloved by British and U.S. forces.
Developed with SAE expertise, the Liberty Truck helped win WWI and established U.S. military vehicle standardization. More than 9,300 examples were produced before the remaining 43,000-unit order was cancelled following the Armistice on November 11, 1918. — Lindsay Brooke
Source: SAE Automotive Engineering Magazine