Emergency Steer Assistant can avoid collisions

November 27, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
If in road traffic suddenly an obstacle appears in front of the vehicle, drivers have to react within fractions of a second. In many cases, the natural response time of human drivers is too long and a collision renders unavoidable. The European interactiVe project (Accidence avoidance by active intervention for Intelligent Vehicles) now has developed an assistant system aiming at avoiding or at least mitigating such collisions.

The German Centre for Aviation and Astronautics (DLR) has tested an Emergency Steer Assistant developed within the scope of the interactiVe project. The system supports the driver in the case of an imminent crash by automatic steering motions. "If in urban traffic suddenly the door of a parking vehicle is opened of on the highway a slower vehicle suddenly merges in front of you, such an emergency steer assistant can help to avoid a collision", says professor Karsten Lemmer from the DLR Institute of Traffic Systems Technology. In three simulator studies and a real-world trial with the FASCar test vehicle, the researchers investigated the interplay between drivers and the steering assistant.

The test drives have been conducted with the FASCar at a speed of 50 kmph (31 mph) on a straight test track. Abruptly, a cable pulled a large net across the road in a way that drivers had no chance to avoid a collision by merely braking. In this test situation the emergency steer assistant was able to perform a dodging manoeuvre at cyberspeed and managed to avoid the collision. In addition, the behaviour of the assistant at higher speeds has been investigated at DLR's dynamic driving simulator. The test persons had to react to obstacles such as cars that suddenly merged into the driver's track - a dangerous situation that frequently occurs on motorways. Tested were multiple early warning concepts including acoustic or optical signals as well as assistant system parameters such as the intensity of the steering movement.

The trials showed that such an assistant can help reducing the number of accidents with suddenly appearing obstacles. If a collision could not be avoided, its consequences could at least be mitigated. The acceptance of the assistant among the test persons was good. Many drivers did not even realise that the system actively intervened or said afterwards they believed that they acted by themselves with a dodging manoeuvre to