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Thesis work in Spain about autonomous cars

Published: 12 April 2018

In addition to the warm climate, the studies in Spain offer a learning experience and give a boost to the CV. That is what automotive engineering students Daniel Åhlund and Mikael Mörck say. They are currently doing their respective degree projects at one of the world's leading development and car testing companies.

– I develop an autonomous information system called "Speed ​​Limit Information Function" to be implemented in our client's future production cars. The system reads the road signs in traffic and shows the relevant information relevant to the driver in the display panel. In the end, the car will adjust the speed of the traffic signs by itself, when combined with the systems my team is currently working on, says Mikael Mörck, student at the BSc Programme in Automotive Engineering who is currently doing his degree at Applus+ IDIADA, about 50 kilometres from Barcelona.

– Creating the system from scratch and to be able in the future to point at the car and say that I've been part of developing it feels cool, says Mikael Mörck.

System that warns of collisions

Daniel Åhlund, who is also studying the programme in automotive engineering at Luleå University of Technology, is in the same company, and he is also working on technology that will be used in autonomous vehicles. 

– My work is about the development and validation of "Vehicle to Vehicle" (V2V) communication and "Vehicle to Everything" (V2X) communication combined with a collision warning system to increase the safety of the high-speed track here at Applus+ IDIADA. What's most fun with the work is to participate in developing something that will actually be used.

Impressive test facility

Daniel and Mikael work in the city of Santa Oliva, Spain, at the site where the company has its headquarters and the location of one of the world's largest test tracks. The high-speed track is 7.5 km long and the longest straight distance is 2.5 km. The rest of the test facilities and offices are located inside the high-speed track.

– If you are interested in cars and the technology behind, you should apply here! Everyone is very nice and it's a nice working environment to be in, I look forward to going to work every day. We have a lot to thank our teacher Jan van Deventer for, he communicated the contact so we could apply for a job, says Mikael Mörck.

– It is obviously a nice climate here, but also a great learning experience to see how it works in another country. Something worth thinking about is that it is not very easy to find accommodation, be prepared for some paperwork before it is possible to start work, says Daniel Åhlund.

Safer with autonomous vehicles

There is no doubt that self-driving cars belong to the future, according to Daniel Åhlund and Mikael Mörck, who are soon to be automotive engineers.

– Studies show that about 80% of all collisions are due to the human factor and that about 30% of all collisions could have been avoided only by having an autonomous emergency brake installed in all cars. Fully autonomous cars eliminate the human factor and make it much safer in traffic, that is of course a big advantage, says Mikael Mörck.

– It will probably take a few years before we see completely autonomous cars for consumers, it must work almost flawlessly for companies to dare to launch. On the other hand, there are already many car companies that have autonomous systems in their vehicles. This is a market that is expanding greatly. I guess that taxis, trucks and buses are the vehicles we will first see in the market, says Daniel Åhlund.

When it comes to what to do after the degree, they both will first enjoy the Swedish summer and then hopefully work with autonomous systems. Mikael Mörck would like to pursue a career in the automotive or aerospace industry. Daniel Åhlund would like to work in the automotive industry, but he also sees an opportunity for development in similar industries.