For over one hundred years the development of automotive technology has constantly improved the performance, fuel-efficiency, comfort and safety of motor vehicles. Safety in particular has certainly improved, however the development of proactive safety systems has fallen behind other features. The greatest laggard of this is collision avoidance. Clearly the greatest obstacle to collision free driving is the human element, and therefore the technology to help the driver avoid a collision is worthwhile.
Currently the avoidance systems available generally fall into the following categories:
- GPS-based systems that communicate their position with similarly-equipped vehicles, which can then detect an impending collision by comparing their relative positions;
- Simple ultrasonic distance-sensing systems that take action as the forward distance between vehicles reduces to a dangerous level such as adaptive cruise control;
- Intelligent systems that constantly measure steering angle, braking force, lateral acceleration and vehicle yaw whose results can help determine upcoming collisions;
- Lateral collision avoidance that detects and warns of objects in the driver’s blind spot.
Currently the final actions of the systems described above usually involve one or more of the following: braking the vehicle, activating seat-belt pre-tensioners, closing windows and sunroofs, activating other passenger-protecting devices, or simply warning the driver. However not all of the systems on their own will provide an ideal collision avoidance system, and a combination of several plus an embedded intelligent system will be necessary.
The correct action for a system to take will be a function of the individual circumstances of the potential collision, and that the requirement for a vehicle to “just stop” may not be the only sensible option – as doing so could interfere with other vehicles still on the move. The intelligence to avoid collisions also needs to take into account the movements of surrounding vehicles and location of fixed obstacles.
Although some prestige and high-end manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz and Lexus are implementing their own in-house collision avoidance systems, each system falls into one and not all of the categories listed above – and therefore doesn’t consider all factors that lead to a collision with another vehicle, pedestrians or other obstacles.
For example in mild situations, warning the driver is appropriate – such as the car in front decelerating from a high speed. Or if a vehicle approaches at speed from another lane, and the system detects it is safe to do so, it could automatically move away into another lane. The combinations of situations and responses needs further research, but can be achieved.
The cost of any system is more than offset by the real financial and human cost of any collision, and although the initial price of a suitably-equipped vehicle will be more, the total cost of ownership should be reduced due to decreased insurance premiums, reduction in repairs from collisions and increased vehicle resale value. This is especially true for heavy vehicles – the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads conducted a study this year and found that although the cost of existing collision-avoidance systems can vary between $1400 and $5000 per vehicle, the average financial benefit was around $13000. Nevertheless the driver must be educated to understand what the system does and does not do – replace them as a responsible driver. Collision-avoidance systems are an aid to the driver, and not a replacement for one.
A huge opportunity exists in the form of a challenge to develop and manufacture a complete avoidance system still has not been accepted (publicly) by any major manufacturer. This would involve a higher level of artificial intelligence that constantly uses data from all sensor types to determine possible negative driver outcomes. Furthermore, once such as system has been developed – it will trickle down from the high end models before being made available to mid-range and budget vehicles.
Therefore any organisation who can successfully develop and market a complete OEM collision-avoidance system to the automotive industry at a reasonable price can only find success.
At the LX Group we have experience in the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) area, including technologies and systems such as:
Variable messaging signs and traffic control systems
Collision avoidance systems and driver safety systems
Dynamic traffic light sequencing
Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications
Advanced telematics and location tracking systems
The team at LX has developed a number of systems in this area and has extensive experience with the core technology requirements of such systems. We understand the importance of high availability, accuracy and integrity of the systems, combined with the need for future proofing infrastructure rollouts.
For more information or a confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.
LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design. www.lx–group.com.au
Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.