Technology systems company Bosch said its research team in Germany has made significant progress on automation technology to address human error when driving.
Bosch Malaysia general manager, Automotive Sales and Original Equipment, Klaus Landhaeusser said: "Malaysia has one of the highest road fatality rates in the world. Studies have shown that 80 percent of road accidents stem from human error. This is a recurring issue that needs to be addressed."
Landhaeusser said traffic in most cities was often congested and unpredictable with cars sharing the streets with bicycles, motorcycles, trucks, and buses. It was not unusual to see cars double parked and pedestrians stepping out into the road without warning.
He said the research team in Germany, headed by Dr Dietrich Manstetten and Dr Lutz Burkle, which has been working on the technology needed to address challenge of vehicles negotiating such hazards under a joint UR:BAN project, has made great progress.
"One of the things they've taught the cars is to predict what is going to happen next, and help drivers take evasive action whenever there is a threat of collision with a pedestrian," said Landhaeusser. At the final presentation of the UR:BAN project in Düsseldorf on October 7, the team demonstrated their work using test vehicles."
The UR:BAN project's key points are:
- Bosch test vehicles compute how objects are going to move
- New assistance system helps drivers evade car-pedestrian accidents
- Bosch technology manoeuvres cars safely through tight spaces in the city
UR:BAN (acronym from the German for urban space: user-friendly assistance systems and network management) is a publicly funded joint project. It brings together 31 partners from the automotive, automotive-supply, electronics, communications, and software industries, as well as universities, research institutes, and cities. The project's aim is to develop driver assistance and traffic management systems for cities. Driver assistance systems are an essential step on the way to automated driving. UR:BAN is receiving some 40 million euros of funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The project's overall costs total about 80 million euros.
Automated driving functions
As an example, Landhaeusser said evasive steering support can prevent up to 58 percent of collisions with pedestrians. This system relied on automated driving functions using sensors that monitor the vehicle's surroundings.
"Only when we know what's going on around the car can we determine the correct driving strategy," he said, adding that one component Bosch used for environment recognition was its stereo video camera, which can already be found in production vehicles, mounted behind the windshield near the rear-view mirror. The camera will monitor the area to the front of the test vehicle, and relay this information to a computer in the trunk.
This computer analyses the data more than ten times a second, said Landhaeusser "Using smart algorithms, we get the computer to calculate how the environment is changing and where objects are headed."
The ability to predict presents new opportunities for pedestrian protection, said Landhaeusser. "The Bosch researchers have developed an assistance system that intervenes to prevent a collision with a pedestrian. At vehicle speeds up to 50 kilometres per hour, the system helps drivers brake and take evasive action. If braking alone is no longer enough to prevent a collision with a pedestrian who suddenly walks out in front of the car, the assistant instantaneously computes an evasive manoeuvre. As soon as drivers start using the steering wheel to take evasive action, the system kicks in to support the steering manoeuvre."
"According to the studies, provided the driver reacts at least half a second before a potential collision, the assistance system can help avoid it in 58 percent of cases," he said, adding that Bosch's solution also recognised crossing pedestrians and can bring the car to a stop before collision
However, to avoid such situations, Bosch has worked on a driver observation solution. "By monitoring drivers' line of sight, tiny cameras in the vehicle's interior can tell whether their eyes are on the road. This makes it possible to warn distracted drivers in good time before the traffic situation becomes risky. In this context, Bosch believes that it helps to place indicators in the instrument clusters or an LED display on the dashboard directly in the driver's field of vision."
Bosch's assistance system for tight spaces goes further, said Landhaeusser. "It manoeuvres the car through tight spaces such as streets where cars are double parked. Using images from the stereo video camera, the computer calculates the path the car should travel. It then controls the electrical power steering and ensures that the car manoeuvres through a tight space unscathed. The Bosch system also recognizes when a space is too tight to pass through, warning the driver or stopping the car in time before the exterior rear-view mirrors or fenders are damaged."
He added that the insights gained from the work of Manstetten, Bürkle, and the team of researchers in the UR:BAN project feed were now helping the development of automated driving.
Bosch has been working on this technology since 2011 in Abstatt, Germany, and Palo Alto in California, said Landhaeusser, adding that Bosch has also successfully been driving a number of automated test vehicles in normal traffic on the German A81 and U.S. I280 freeways since the beginning of 2013. From 2020, it is expected that vehicles featuring this Bosch technology will be capable of highly automated freeway driving without the need for constant driver supervision.
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