Effectiveness, Assessment, and Legal Issues

From a traffic safety viewpoint, the urban environment currently represents a key area for improvement. A considerable portion of personal injury accidents occurs in urban areas. Furthermore, the technological basis required to address urban accidents effectively has been lacking. Hazardous situations in urban areas pose particularly difficult challenges for active safety systems: The available space is confined by buildings approaching the street boundary and infrastructure elements; the relevant traffic situations are usually involved due to the high density of road users within a confined space. Moreover, urban traffic includes many vulnerable road users, whose benefit from regular passive automobile safety systems is limited or nonexistent. Thus, more sophisticated safety systems are needed that can respond to the needs of all road users under a large variety of scenarios.

The complexity of urban accident scenarios leads to a corresponding complexity in the design and development of driver assistance systems for active safety in urban areas. These processes require quantitative estimates of traffic safety impacts directly from the start. There are numerous tradeoffs and optimization issues in design of safety functions. It is essential to focus on the goals of maximal accident avoidance and reduction of injury severity while taking into account how real accidents occur “in the field.”

The project 'Effectiveness, Assessment, and Legal Issues' supports the three implementation projects in system design. To this end, an integrated computer simulation toolkit is being created based on real world accidents (GIDAS as well as video documented accidents), with the purpose of predicting the potential effectiveness and the future benefit of safety systems addressing this accident sample.  This toolkit can then be used to help optimize the design of the implementation project functions for maximum safety effectiveness.

In addition, the applications developed in the UR:BAN-project 'Cognitive Assistance' are being considered from a legal perspective. As part of the development process, systems with a direct influence on longitudinal or transverse control of the vehicle, ranging up to fully autonomous intervention, require analysis of relevant legal consequences. The issues pertain both to product liability laws as well as in laws regulating driving behavior. For example, an international treaty known as the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic mandates control of the vehicle by the driver; the national traffic code of Germany also contains provisions regulating driver behavior and control. Legal requirements and constraints could affect the conception and design of safety applications developed in UR:BAN. The aim is to develop functions in such a way as to eliminate situations most likely to cause legal conflicts. At the same time, this project will explore in depth whether, if applicable, certain current legal constraints should be revisited.