There is one aspect that cannot be developed as fast as other car technologies because it still needs a human touch.
Even while the auto makers are fast developing technologies for completely autonomous vehicles, the ultimate product would still human touch in car washing for those advanced cars to be kept under perfect working condition. This despite the fact that even car washing processes have undergone technological development.
Experts have pointed out that for a self-driving vehicle, passing it through a traditional car wash can create a number of problems.
An autonomous car, for example, can effectively get “blinded” by residues or droplets of soap or water. The sensitive sensors of an automatic car can also get damaged or jarred by the heavy brushes that are used in the traditional car wash systems which can disrupt the calibration of the sensors and impact accuracy. In a worst-case scenario, the sensors can get broken which can cost more than $100,000.
Compared to a typical traditional car, a complete self-driving car needs to be cleaned – especially its interiors, more frequently because there needs to be absolutely no obstruction to the sensors. The capability of self-driving vehicles to drives themselves safely can be severely impacted if sensors are blocked by dirt, dead bugs, bird droppings or even water spots.
For the self-driving van fleet of Waymo, the arms of Google’s parent company Alphabet’s self-driving car development division, the task of cleaning and refueling of those vehicles have been entrusted to Avis, a firm that has many years of experience in the management of large fleets of rental cars. For catering to the Chrysler Pacifica vans, three of its branches in Phoenix have been modified by Avis.
“There are special processes that definitely require a lot more care and focus, and you have to clean [the vans] quite often,” Avis chief innovation officer Arthur Orduña said in a television interview. “We give them the premium level of service that I don’t think any vehicle globally is getting.”
The details about how exactly the company is washing those vehicles was not revealed by Orduña. However, the trick has been described and detailed to the media by some other self-driving car firms like Toyota, Aptiv, Drive.AI and Uber where they make use of microfiber cloths together with rubbing alcohol, water or glass cleaner while using humans for cleanings.
The camera lens is cleaned manually by the application of windshield washer fluid and a squirt bottle for conditions that are snowy and icy. The residual remains are then cleaned off with a whiff of air.
While sometimes making use of cleaning wipes, camera lenses of Toyota self-driving cars cleaned mainly by rubbing alcohol on a cloth.
On the other hand, sensor cleaning equipment are being built into their vehicles by some firms such as Cruise which is the self-driving wing of General Motors (GM). This can reduce the need for manual cleaning to some extent.
(Adapted from Money.cnn.com)