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Self-driving motorhomes are closer than expected

The Erwin Hymer group tests the first self-driving motorhome

Get in your motorhome, lie down and let the vehicle drive for you!
Motorhomes of the future

Get in your motorhome, lie down and let the vehicle drive for you! Sleep, relax or you can even work until you reach your destination. This is the future of the motorhome. The Erwin Hymer Group (among others) is already working hard on the development of autonomous vehicles; in order to promote it, presents a current research project carried out by its North American brand Roadtrek at the Caravan Salon Düsseldorf 2017.

Due to the growing motorhome industry, it is a fertile ground for new developments. Currently, the "Erwin Hymer Group North America" development teams are intensively addressing the problem of autonomous vehicles. What sounded like a utopian vision only a few years ago will soon become a reality: motorhomes without a driver. In any case, it is predicted that the true revolution of the first motorhomes with self-direction (vehicle with full manoeuverability command) should be available in 2030 onwards, although in the United States and Canada it may be long before.

The first characteristics of autonomous motorhomes
The Erwin Hymer Group was the first company in the world to be authorized by the Canadian government to test motorhomes on public roads. The initial investigation into test tracks has been followed by first tests on public roads.

Complete relaxation instead of driving
Jörg Reithmeier, member of the executive board of the Erwin Hymer Group, says: We believe that all innovations should focus mainly on people. Automated driving gives people something very important: time to invest in other meaningful activities instead of driving. This makes the motorhome considerably more pleasant, as the driver begins to relax the moment he enters his motorhome.

The experts have defined five levels of autonomous driving.
These levels of autonomous driving are established as follows:

1) Assistance to the driver, that is, driving with the help of driver assistance systems such as automatic distance control, lane departure warning and jam assistance systems, as well as some first automatic pilot features such as automatic parking. Of course, the final decisions are made by the driver.

2) Here we are referring to vehicles that receive the denomination of semi-autonomous. The vehicle is capable of taking control of driving, but the driver must remain attentive at all times to recover the command, if necessary; in this situation it is mandatory to deactivate the semi-autonomous mode.

3) This level already marks some differences and the environment monitoring (360º) enters the game so that the vehicle knows how to respond to certain unforeseen events. This is a system that can take the most convenient decision in different cases: braking (avoiding a collision), changing lanes. In any case, the driver must still remain attentive.

4) At this level, the driver is no longer essential in a good number of decisions; It will be equipped with sensors, detectors, radars and GPS, which will allow you to locate the environment to determine the best option at the right time. However, computer systems will not have total control; therefore, there will be times when you will need the intervention of the driver.

5) At level five we are already talking about the total control of the vehicle. For these characteristics, vehicles would be already without steering wheel, pedals, any type of guide or driving device. In this case, it will only have occupants (there is no driver) - it works alone, it is totally autonomous. Passengers can dedicate themselves to doing what they like best.

The vehicle must be able to recognize its environment, for example, the road, moving objects, traffic signals and traffic lights, so that the autopilot operates safely and reliably. The motorhome collects all needed data with the help of map services, radar systems, camera systems, sensors and night vision systems. The objective of the research is to combine all data in and then process it in real time through the cloud-based comparison.

About Erwin Hymer Group
The Erwin Hymer Group brings together the main manufacturers of motorhomes and caravans, as well as specialists in accessories, rental services and financing under one roof. With a turnover of approx. 2.1 billion euros, the Group sold around 55,000 leisure vehicles in the fiscal year 2016/17. It employs more than 6,000 people around the world.

The brands motorhomes and caravans of Erwin Hymer Group:
Buccaneer, Bürstner, Carado, Compass, Dethleffs, Elddis, Eriba, Etrusco, Hymer, Laika, Roadtrek (located in Canada), Niesmann + Bischoff, LMC, Sunlight y Xplore.

Other companies of the caravanning market owned by  Erwin Hymer Group
  • McRent, the largest motorhome rental company in Europe. 
  • Best Time RV, company of the motorhome rental sector.
  • Rent easy, another motorhome rental company.
  • Goldschmitt, chassis specialist.
  • Movera, specialist in accessories, spare parts
  • 3DOG camping, manufacturer of tents and trailers.
  • freeontour, website dedicated to campsite information.