Safe Lateral and Longitudinal Vehicle Control in Cities

he main goals of the sub-project are to avoid serious accidents in cities as well as to improve the efficiency of urban traffic, while preserving the mobility of older people. This is achieved through a set of powerful, innovative assistance functions that reduce the driver load by timely data on road width and driving difficulty on narrow city streets and that provide continuous support for lateral and longitudinal vehicle control.

Collisions at bottlenecks lead to particularly severe traffic blockages and jams.  Avoidance of these accidents could have a direct and substantial positive influence on efficiency and reduction of environmental impacts of dense urban traffic. Driver assistance systems supporting lateral and longitudinal vehicle control could also have a decidedly positive impact on preserving mobility and social integration of older people in urban areas. For example, they could provide strong support to elderly drivers with physical disabilities who would otherwise feel emotionally insecure about driving, thus allowing them to participate in social life and maintain their independent mobility for a longer period. Schematic representation of a bottleneck

In this sub-project the following driver assistance systems are being investigated and implemented in prototype applications: 

  • Constriction assistant: Lateral guidance in traffic flow to support the driver within narrowed lanes, when passing vehicle platoons in neighboring lanes, fixed obstacles, or parked cars. A warning is given if the constriction is too narrow to pass through.
  • Oncoming traffic assistant: Oncoming vehicles in city traffic are evaluated to determine whether they could pose a hazard to a vehicle driving through a narrow passage. A warning message is given if passage is not possible in the presence of oncoming traffic.
  • Lane change assistant with all-around vision: The position of the driver’s vehicle in its lane is determined; other lanes are also monitored (forward and to the rear) to determine whether a safe lane change is possible. If so, a guided lane change can be carried out on request. This function can decrease the driver’s load in urban scenarios with multiple lanes in each direction.
  • Environment-adaptive speed recommendation: Continuous driver support could make driving in city traffic safer and more efficient. The driver receives tactile (a.k.a. “haptic”) feedback via the accelerator or steering wheel to support him in maintaining a “safety corridor.” Reducing the burden of maintaining this safety corridor allows drivers to devote more attention to forward-looking, proactive driving and promotes more timely recognition of hazardous situations. This support is particularly relevant for older drivers, who, without adequate assistance, would tend to avoid city driving entirely.