Technology and Safety

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Updated: October 10, 2018

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are designed to provide the driver with essential information about their surroundings and to automate difficult or repetitive tasks.

Advanced driver assistance systems protect the driver and help to reduce collisions, enhancing overall safety for all road users. For these reasons, all vehicles in the European Union and the USA must be equipped with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and forward-collision avoidance warning systems by 2020.

There are many types of advanced driver assistance systems that help increase vehicle and driver safety, but the following are the most effective in saving lives:

A forward-collision avoidance system, also known as a forward collision warning or collision mitigation system, informs the driver of possible forward-facing collisions.

This system uses radar, utilizing radio waves and a laser that emits an infrared laser beam, in combination with an image recognition camera that is used to detect imminent dangers ahead of the vehicle. Equipped with the speed, distance, and image information from the three detection sensors (radar, laser, camera), the forward-collision avoidance system can inform the driver of split-second changes in traffic or dangers in front of the vehicle.

As soon as the vehicle approaches a hazard and one or more of the detection sensors are triggered, the driver is alerted via a visual, audible and/or vibration warning. The forward-collision avoidance is often integrated with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), in which case, the brakes are applied automatically without any input from the driver.

An autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system is a life-saving safety feature with the capability to prevent or mitigate an accident and is perhaps the most important innovation since the seat belt. Where the seat belt protects the vehicle’s occupants in the event of a collision, AEB is designed predominantly to prevent a collision.

The radar, laser and camera detection sensors continuously analyze the environment ahead of the vehicle in case of potential impacts. If a collision is imminent, and the driver fails to respond to the warnings, the AEB will pre-charge the vehicle brakes making them more responsive and ready to react to the driver’s braking action. Providing the driver still fails to intervene, the brakes are applied automatically with full force.

At a speed of up to 30km/h the AEB can prevent the collision from occurring, however, at a higher speed the impact cannot be avoided but the severity is greatly reduced. To ensure the driver remains in full control of the vehicle during a collision situation, the AEB will deactivate whenever the driver accelerates hard or turns the steering wheel to avoid the accident.

Pedestrian and cycle detection systems aim to protect pedestrians and cyclists by using the radar, laser and camera detection sensors as an extra set of eyes for the driver.

Once a pedestrian or cyclist enters the vehicle’s path, the data from the detection sensors is sent to a central control module to distinguish between a pedestrian or cyclist. Armed with this information, the system can alert the driver to an impending collision and apply the brakes automatically when AEB is installed.

The effectiveness of the pedestrian and cyclist detection system is severely reduced in poor light conditions. The camera’s field of vision is very much like the human eye, with restricted capacity at night and in low light, therefore this is only intended as a supplementary aid, where the driver is always responsible for operating the vehicle in a safe manner.

A lane departure system is a warning system that alerts the driver when the vehicle is drifting out of its lane. It is also known as lane keep assist, lane keeping aid, and active lane keeping.

Through the image recognition camera, the broken and solid lane markings on the road ahead are continuously monitored in case the vehicle drifts. Any time the vehicle deviates from the centre of the lane, feedback warnings are generated, at which point the driver must use corrective measures to position the vehicle centrally between the lane markings.

Assuming that the driver intentionally wants the vehicle to change lane with the indicators turned on, the lane departure system deactivates allowing the driver to turn right or left without any alerts.

The lane departure warning system has evolved from just a warning, to providing steering assist or by keeping the car centered in the current lane autonomously using the electric power steering or anti-lock braking system (ABS).

Once the vehicle approaches the lane marking, lane departure will correct the position of the vehicle with the steering or apply the brakes, in the opposite front wheel to pivot the car gently back into the lane. In either case, the driver can override the system at any time by turning the steering wheel.

THE FUTURE OF ADAS

As the motor vehicle evolves, becoming less mechanical and digital and software oriented, the next generation of ADAS will be engineered to eliminate both the physical and psychological after-effects of a collision by eliminating the possibility of it occurring.

While we are at the early stages of the ADAS journey, the building blocks are falling into place in the form of the semi-autonomous vehicle, putting us on the road towards what we can only hope will be an accident-free future.

Autodata, Australia’s leading provider of automotive technical information provides servicing, maintenance, diagnostics and repair information for 92 per cent of vehicles on Australian roads and more than 65 per cent of vehicles on New Zealand’s roads.

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