- Live demonstrations at the concluding presentation of the UR:BAN project in Düsseldorf show the effectiveness of innovative assistance systems for lateral and longitudinal vehicle control.
- Practical experience has shown that hazardous traffic situations in built-up areas can be detected and the associated risks reduced by providing support for drivers.
- Vehicle-to-X communication and the “electronic horizon”: UR:BAN tests how vehicle networking can help drivers negotiate intersections safely and efficiently.
Düsseldorf, 9-10-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — Today, at the concluding presentation of the UR:BAN research project (Urbaner Raum: Benutzergerechte Assistenzsysteme und Netzwerkmanagement = Urban Space: User oriented assistance systems and network management) at the Düsseldorf exhibition site, the international automotive industry supplier Continental demonstrated how the driver assistance and vehicle networking functions, that were examined during the project, can make driving in built-up areas safer, more efficient and more comfortable.
City traffic has many pitfalls: Unforeseeable hazards, road users approaching from different directions, distracting road signs, sudden traffic light changes and many other demands mean that drivers have to concentrate fully at all times. They are expected to be ready to control their vehicle in the longitudinal and lateral directions at all times and as the situation demands. Sometimes, the task is too great – as the accident statistics show. “People are not machines,” said Dr. Stefan Lüke, Continental Chassis & Safety division and head of the Safe Lateral and Longitudinal Vehicle Control subproject at UR:BAN.“That is why we are deploying high-performance assistance systems in order to combine the reliability of a machine with the flexibility of a human being.” Approximately 150 visitors invited to the Düsseldorf exhibition site were able to test out for themselves the situations in which the new assistance systems can prove their value. Test drives in the presented research vehicles revealed the protective capabilities of the assistance systems in potentially hazardous traffic situations. The demonstrated systems included narrow passage, oncoming traffic and lane change assistants as well as situation-dependent speed recommendations based on tactile feedback.
Assistance systems for safe lateral and longitudinal vehicle control in cities
The key to assistance functions lies in the reliable detection of the environment, as well as in the recognition of other active and passive road users and the sometimes very complex surroundings that occur in cities. In this regard, a crucial role is played by the environment sensors used in the research vehicles: Four short-range radars located at the corners of the vehicle, a forward-looking long-range radar and a stereo camera, record and recognize the environment in front of, next to and behind the vehicle and consequently provide a 360-degree view.
The narrow passage assistant supports the driver in narrow lanes, as well as when driving past lines of vehicles, fixed obstacles or parked vehicles. The assistance takes the form of steering interventions similar to those used in lanekeeping assistants. The driver is warned in good time by an acoustic signal and a display in the instrument cluster if the bottleneck is too narrow for the vehicle to pass through and, if there is no reaction, automatic safety braking may even be initiated.
The oncoming traffic assistant assesses whether oncoming vehicles might pose a problem when driving through narrow passages. If it is not possible to pass through the constricted area, then the driver is alerted that it is necessary to stop.
The lane change assistant with 360-degree vision reduces the burden on drivers in inner-city traffic scenarios with multiple lanes. The system determines the position of the host vehicle in the lane and uses environment sensors to monitor the space around the vehicle – including behind it. This information enables the assistant to detect whether a safe lane change is possible and assist in doing this if the driver wants to. The aim of this function is to guide the vehicle safely and smoothly into the neighboring lane. However, drivers can override these steering and longitudinal vehicle control systems themselves at any time by steering or braking.
The situation-dependent speed recommendation function is intended to make driving in city traffic safer and more efficient wherever the vehicle is located. Tactile feedback at Continental’s active accelerator pedal – the Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal (AFFP) – provides the driver with a recommendation to reduce the vehicle speed directly at his or her foot. This function provides drivers with continuous support, enabling them to adopt forward-looking, anticipative driving behaviors, recognize critical situations earlier and arrive relaxed at their destination.
Cooperative intersection assistant – the lights are always green with intelligent infrastructure
Negotiating intersections is not only a traffic situation that frequently increases the likelihood of accidents but is also the cause of much inner-city congestion. It is also one of the most demanding scenarios for driver assistance systems. “That is precisely why we took on this challenge. To allow drivers to traverse intersections more smoothly and thereby free up the traffic flow, we use Vehicle-to-X networking via WLAN or, if required, the mobile phone network and Internet,” said Dr. Hongjun Pu, Continental Interior division, from the UR:BAN subproject Networked Traffic System. For reasons of practicality, the vehicle assistance functions for adaptive deceleration using traffic signal phase data on urban roads was demonstrated at a stand in the exhibition hall, while an in-vehicle demonstration of an intersection solution for the “smart intersection” subproject was presented in a real driving scenario on the outdoor exhibition site.
Using real-time data from the city of Düsseldorf, the in-vehicle “electronic horizon” was extended by information about the switching times of traffic light installations in order to support the cooperative intersection assistant function. One of the capabilities of this extended eHorizon from Continental is to make it possible to calculate in advance the speed range in which the vehicle has to travel in order to pass through forthcoming lights on green. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer’s assistance concept, this information may be passed to the driver as a tactile signal at the AFFP or the assistant may intervene directly in the longitudinal control of the vehicle. Further optimization of stop/start operation to enhance fuel consumption and driving comfort is also possible thanks to the vehicle networking solutions.
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