The analysis of the data collected during the tour allowed the computation of a number of statistics regarding system performance (see Table 1). In particular, for each stage of the tour, the average and maximum speeds of the vehicle during automatic driving were computed. Average speed was strongly influenced by the heavy traffic conditions (especially on Torino, Milano and Roma's bypasses) and by the presence of toll stations, junctions and road works.
The automatic driving percentage and maximum distance show high values, despite the presence of many tunnels (particularly during the Appennines routes Ancona to Roma and Firenze to Bologna) and of several stretches of road with absent or worn lane markings (Ferrara to Ancona and Ancona to Roma) or even no lane markings at all (Firenze to Bologna). It is fundamentally important to note that some stages included passing through toll stations and transiting bypasses with heavy traffic and frequent queues, during which the system had to be switched off.
Throughout the entire project, the choice of an Intel-based platform, coupled with the Linux operating system, was shown to be extremely reliable; the number of faults due to these system components was zero over the last two years.
Originally, the main reason behind the choice of the Linux operating system (instead of real-time OS or operating systems for industrial PCs) was the availability of up-to-date developing and debugging tools, drivers and FAQs about specific hardware devices, and the possibility of interacting with a large number of researchers worldwide on the Internet in order to solve problems.
The main topics for future research (ARGO Project, phase II) are related to the development of a new vehicle integrating both road following and platooning (the automatic following of a manually driven vehicle) functionalities. In this next phase, the processing engine will be a higher performance Intel-based architecture, again driven by the Linux operating system.
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