Vehicle colour impacts autonomous technology

Barry Snyder, Axalta’s senior vice president and chief technology officer, addressed more than 300 autonomous vehicle professionals at the Autonomous Car Detroit conference in Michigan, USA.

The conference was designed to facilitate idea sharing and discussion around technologies and trends that are shaping the evolution of the autonomous car.

Barry’s discussion focused on how coatings are a vital enabler to the future of autonomous vehicles and how Axalta is working on innovative solutions that will comply with autonomous vehicle requirements.

‘Reflectivity and transmissivity are key pieces to the puzzle we need to solve, and we have technology available to address some of these issues,’ Barry said during the presentation.

Barry explained that for vehicles to sense each other on the road safely, car paint needs to be reflective. Today, autonomous vehicle light-mapping systems called LiDAR systems can more easily detect light-coloured vehicles due to their reflectivity.

Though reflectivity plays a key role in allowing autonomous vehicles to detect each other, coatings must also be formulated to receive and transmit laser light signals through paint without interference. Sensors will be covered in coatings, so the paint formulation would allow signals to pass through the coating. If this can be achieved, automobile manufacturers will have more flexibility in terms of placement of the sensors and will have fewer limitations on the design of future vehicles.