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Safety

[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

IIHS small overlap front crash testing finds mixed small car results; Volt wins 2014 Top Safety Pick+ award

July 31, 2014

The Mini Cooper Countryman was the only small car to earn a good rating among the latest group of 12 cars subjected to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) small overlap front crash test. Two battery- electric models and a hybrid also are in the mix, with varied results.

The Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle and the Ford C-MAX Hybrid earned an acceptable rating in this test, while the battery-electric Nissan LEAF earned a poor rating. The gasoline-powered Mazda 5 small four-door wagon is rated poor.

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New Volvo XC90 offering two new enhanced automated safety features and new automatic parking capability

July 22, 2014

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The new XC90 will automatically brake should the driver turn in front of an oncoming vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars’ new mid-size SUV XC90—which will be revealed in August—will offer two new “world-first” automated safety features: auto brake when turning in front of an oncoming vehicle; and a solution focusing on accidental road departure. These innovations will form part of a suite of safety features that will make the all-new XC90 one of the safest cars ever made, Volvo Cars claims. The company has a strategic goal that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.

The new XC90, which is based on the company’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) and will offer a plug-in hybrid version (earlier post), also features IntelliSafe support technologies including an extended Park Assist Pilot, which now also offers automatic reversing into a parking bay as well as entering and exiting a parallel parking spot. The XC90 can also display a digitally created bird’s-eye view of the 360° area around the car on the large center screen.

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Virginia Tech wins $55M in federal contracts for commercial truck driver safety and automated vehicle research

July 21, 2014

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has been awarded two federal contracts worth a combined potential $55 million to further study safety efforts for commercial truck drivers and break new ground in the burgeoning field of automated vehicles.

The contracts are being awarded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with a ceiling of $30 million for a five-year period, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at a maximum of $25 million during a five-year period. Collectively, the contracts—both won this spring—are the largest of their kind awarded to the institute in its 25-year history.

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DRIVE C2X presents results of large-scale connected vehicle field testing in Europe

July 16, 2014

In Berlin, the DRIVE C2X consortium is presenting the results of the field operational tests (FOTs) on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2X or C2X) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I or C2I) technologies (collectively V2X or C2X) in Europe. (Earlier post.) With 34 partners, 13 support partners and a €18.5-million (US$25 million) budget, the three and one-half year DRIVE 2CX project, coordinated by Daimler, was intended to lay the foundation for the roll-out of vehicle-to-X cooperative systems in Europe.

Previous projects such as PReVENT, CVIS, SAFESPOT, COOPERS, and PRE-DRIVE C2X showed the feasibility of safety and traffic efficiency applications based on C2X communication. DRIVE C2X went beyond the proof-of-concept and addressed large-scale field trials under real-world conditions at multiple national test sites across Europe. During the project, more than 750 drivers tested eight safety-related functions of cooperative functions.

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European consortium investigating graphene-based materials for lightweight cars; energy-efficient and safe vehicles

June 30, 2014

The University of Sunderland (UK), working with a consortium of five other research partners from Italy, Spain and Germany, has been selected for funding by the €1-billion (US$1.4-billion) Graphene Flagship research initiative in Europe (earlier post) for their iGCAuto proposal. The researchers will explore the properties of graphene to determine how it behaves when used to enhance advanced composite materials used in the production of cars. The other partners are Centro Ricerche FIAT (Italy); Fraunhofer ICT (Germany); Interquimica (Spain); Nanesa S.r.l. (Italy); and Delta-Tech S.p.A. (Italy).

As part of the work, a novel graphene-based polymer material will be investigated, modeled, and designed to enhance both vehicle and occupant safety while remaining very light. This material will provide benefits such as improved strength, dimensional stability, and superior durability.

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Ford and Intel demonstrate in-car personalization with perceptual computing; Project Mobii

June 26, 2014

Ford and Intel are researching new opportunities for the connected car, including giving drivers the ability to remotely peer into their car using a smartphone, or a vehicle that could identify its owner using facial recognition software. The joint research project, called Mobile Interior Imaging, or Project Mobii, explores how interior-facing cameras could be integrated with sensor technology and data already generated within and around the vehicle to create a more personalized and seamless interaction between driver and vehicle that transforms the driving experience.

The Mobii research, which was showcased during the Go Further with Ford 2014 Trend Conference as part of the “Big Data” track this week in Dearborn, was a collaboration between Intel ethnographers, anthropologists and engineers alongside Ford research engineers. Mobii incorporates perceptual computing technology (now named RealSense by Intel) to offer a more enjoyable and intuitive vehicle experience.

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Google focusing autonomous driving development on mastering city street driving; patents piling up

April 29, 2014

Over the past year, Google has shifted the focus of its autonomous vehicle project onto mastering city street driving, according to Chris Urmson, Director, Google Self-Driving Car Project. (Urmson was the technical team leader of the CMU team that won the DARPA 2007 Urban Challenge, an autonomous vehicle race.)

Google’s autonomous cars use video cameras; 4 radar sensors (front, back, left, right); a laser range finder (Velodyne HDL-64E LiDAR) to “see” other traffic; and a GPS as well as a wheel encoder and very detailed road maps to determine the precise location of the vehicle. Google says that its autonomous vehicles have logged nearly 700,000 autonomous miles (1.13 million km) over the four years they have been on the road. Since its last pubic update in 2012, Google said that it has logged thousands of miles on the streets of Mountain View, California, Google’s home.

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LMU study finds 20% of gases from combustion of R1234yf MAC refrigerant consist of highly toxic carbonyl fluoride (correction and update)

April 11, 2014

Chemists at Ludwig Maximilians Universität München report that 20% of the gases produced by the combustion of R1234yf—the approved low global warming potential refrigerant for mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems, the adoption of which has met with resistance from German automakers (earlier post)—consist of the highly toxic chemical carbonyl fluoride.

Carbonyl fluoride is structurally related to phosgene (which contains chlorine in place of fluorine), which was used as a chemical weapon during the First World War. Kornath and his co-workers have just published the results of their investigation in the journal Zeitschrift für Naturforschung B.

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Tesla adding underbody triple shield system to Model S to reduce risk of battery fires caused by impacts

March 28, 2014

In an effort to reduce further the already low risk of a Model S battery fire resulting from impact with road debris, Tesla Motors is outfitting new Model S cars (as of 6 March) with an underbody triple shield system consisting first of an aluminum bar; then a titanium shield; and finally a shallow angle solid aluminum extrusion.

Tesla will also retrofit the system, free of charge, to existing Model S cars upon request or as part of a normally scheduled service, wrote Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk in a post on the Internet publishing site Medium. The action comes as an additional Tesla response in the wake of the two widely-reported Model S collisions in 2013 that resulted in underbody damage that led to car fires. Tesla had earlier provided an over-the-air software update to increase the default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds, thereby also reducing the odds of a severe underbody impact.

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Volvo Car Group initiates Scandinavian pilot using connected car cloud-based communication for slippery road warnings

March 19, 2014

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When the test car detects an icy or slippery road patch, the information is relayed to other vehicles that are approaching the slippery area. The information is also sent to the road administrator. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Group, the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens Vegvesen) are joining forces in a pilot project in which road friction information from individual cars is shared within a cloud-based system. The real-time data about slippery patches on the road are used to warn vehicles nearby, at the same time as it contributes to making winter road maintenance more efficient.

When the Volvo test car detects an icy or slippery road patch, the information is transmitted to Volvo Cars’ database via the mobile phone network. An instant warning is transmitted to other vehicles that are approaching the slippery area, making it possible for the drivers to take immediate action to avoid a critical situation.

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CEN and ETSI deliver first set of standards for Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) in Europe

February 18, 2014

Standards organizations CEN and ETSI recently confirmed, at the 6th ETSI workshop on ITS in Berlin, that the basic set of standards for Cooperative Intelligence Transport Systems (C-ITS), as requested by the European Commission in 2009, have now been adopted and issued. The Release 1 specifications developed by CEN and ETSI will enable vehicles made by different manufacturers to communicate with each other and with the road infrastructure systems.

When they have been applied by vehicle manufacturers, the new specifications should contribute to preventing road accidents by providing warning messages, for example about driving the wrong way or possible collisions at intersections, as well as advance warnings of roadworks, traffic jams and other potential risks to road safety. This vision of safe and intelligent mobility can be achieved by utilizing wireless communication technologies to link vehicles and infrastructure and identify potential risks in real time.

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NHTSA awards Virginia Tech Transportation Institute $1M for V2V framework project

February 14, 2014

Following a US Department of Transportation decision to move ahead with require vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for all cars and light trucks on the nation’s highways (earlier post), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) a $1-million follow-on to a $3 million project managed by the transportation institute.

The goal of the project is to design, to test, and to disseminate the initial recommended framework that controls how motorists receive communications—traffic warnings, the too-close approach of another vehicle, weather warnings, or text messages—while driving. Focus will be placed on the communication’s format, visual or audible, and the order and timing of such messages.

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Toyota recalling about 701,000 Gen 3 Prius vehicles in US over software issue in inverter assembly

February 12, 2014

Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., is advising the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of plans to conduct voluntary safety recalls of approximately 701,000 Model Year 2010-2014 Prius vehicles to update the motor/generator control ECU and hybrid control ECU software. This is part of a global recall for the issue.

According to the information Toyota is providing Prius customers in the US, the problem resides in the Intelligent Power Module (IPM), which is inside the Hybrid Inverter Assembly. The inverter converts high-voltage direct current (DC) stored in the high-voltage (HV) battery into high-voltage alternating current (AC) for the motor/generator. It also converts AC into DC during regenerative braking for storage in the HV battery. According to Toyota, due to problems with the software, certain transistors in the IPM could become damaged when operating the vehicle under high-load driving conditions, such as accelerating during highway driving.

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Mitsubishi Electric develops ultra-simple and fast HMI for in-car device operation

February 10, 2014

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has developed an “Ultra-simple HMI” (human-machine interface) that predicts a car driver’s needs for the safe and easy operation of vehicle equipment in one or two steps and no more than 15 seconds. Mitsubishi electric has filed for 25 patents on the technology in Japan and 42 abroad; pending design patent applications number five in Japan.

Mitsubishi Electric’s highly intelligent human-machine interface (HMI) technology bases its predictions on operational history and current conditions to minimize the steps and time required to operate the vehicle’s four primary on-board devices: navigation system, phone, air conditioner and audio-visual equipment.

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NHTSA to move ahead with regulations for vehicle-to-vehicle communications for light vehicles

February 03, 2014

The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it will begin taking steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for light vehicles as the next generation of auto safety. This technology would improve safety by allowing vehicles to communicate and ultimately avoid many crashes altogether by exchanging basic safety data, such as speed and position, ten times per second.

DOT research indicates that safety applications using V2V technology can address a large majority of crashes involving two or more motor vehicles. With safety data such as speed and location flowing from nearby vehicles, vehicles can identify risks and provide drivers with warnings to avoid other vehicles in common crash types such as rear-end, lane change, and intersection crashes. These safety applications have been demonstrated with everyday drivers under both real-world and controlled test conditions.

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European research project AdaptIVe targeting advances in automated driving technologies

February 01, 2014

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Representation of AdapIVe’s working point between full driver control and full vehicle control. Source: Volkswagen Research. Click to enlarge.

A major European research project, AdaptIVe (Automated Driving Applications & Technologies for Intelligent Vehicles), targeting breakthrough advances that will lead to more efficient and safe automated driving kicked off at the MobileLifeCampus in Wolfsburg, Germany on Friday. AdaptIVe is an effort by a consortium of 29 partners—automotive manufacturers, suppliers, research institutes and universities, and small- and medium-sized businesses—coordinated by Volkswagen Group Research.

Over the planned 42-month duration of AdaptIVe, the partners will develop and test new functionalities for cars and trucks, offering both partially automated and highly automated driving on motorways, in urban scenarios, and for close-distance maneuvers.

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New generation VW Polo features more fuel-efficient engines and advanced driver assistance; Polo TDI BlueMotion with 73.5 mpg

January 28, 2014

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The new Volkswagen Polo. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen is introducing its next generation of the supermini (B segment) Polo, featuring a range of new EU6 engines that are up to 21% more fuel-efficient and new driver assistance technologies. All versions are available with a stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode.

The new Polo TDI BlueMotion takes the efficiency lead with combined fuel consumption of 3.2 l/100 km (73.5 mpgUS), or 82 g/km CO2. The Polo TSI BlueMotion, available starting this autumn, also marks the first time that a Volkswagen with a gasoline engine is being marketed as an independent BlueMotion model. The Polo TSI BlueMotion, equipped with a 1-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection gasoline engine, delivers 4.1 l/100 km (57.4 mpgUS) and 94 g/km CO2.

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Subaru debuts next-generation EyeSight system; three new ADAS technologies coming this year

January 24, 2014

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The EyeSight system. Click to enlarge.

Subaru of America, Inc. has introduced a new and improved version of its EyeSight driver assistance system. The new system now features color stereo cameras which deliver an approximately 40% longer and wider detection range; brake light detection; and full functionality when the speed differential between the Eyesight-equipped car and another vehicle is up to 30 mph (48 km/h), up from 19 mph (31 km/h) previously.

Also debuting in Subaru models later this year are three additional advanced driver assistance (ADAS) technologies: blind spot detection; lane change assist; and rear cross traffic alert. These new systems will be introduced on Subaru’s product line-up starting in 2014.

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Ford kicks off new automated driving research projects with MIT and Stanford University

January 22, 2014

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Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle with four LiDAR sensors. Click to enlarge.

Building on the capabilities of the automated Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle unveiled last month (earlier post), Ford is working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University to research and to develop solutions to some of the technical challenges surrounding automated driving.

The MIT research focuses on scenario planning to predict actions of other vehicles and pedestrians, while Stanford is exploring how a vehicle might maneuver to allow its sensors to peek around obstructions. Put another way, the purpose of the MIT project is enhance the utilization of the line-of-sight data already acquired by the Fusion’s sensors to provide augmented predictive capability, especially for pedestrians. The purpose of the Stanford work is to enhance the acquisition of non-line-of-sight data.

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TU München team develops new technique for accurate distance measurement by advanced driver assistance systems using cooperative transponders

January 21, 2014

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Basic concept for range detection using cooperative transponders. Click to enlarge.

As part of the “cooperative transponder” research project Ko-TAG (earlier post), researchers at the Technische Universität München (TUM) developed a new approach to distance measurement to enable advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in cars to pinpoint the location of pedestrians and cyclists even in non-line-of-sight situations—i.e., when they are hidden from the driver’s view.

In this scheme, pedestrian’s and cyclist’s cell phones serve as transponders. On-board positioning systems compute the projected trajectory of the transponders and initiate an emergency braking sequence in case a pedestrian or cyclist moves into the path of a car.

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Audi and TTTech present prototype advanced ECU for piloted driving at CES; computing capacity superior to entire current A4

January 07, 2014

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Audi AG’s Ulrich Hackenberg (Member of the Board for Technical Development) holds the prototype zFAS at CES. Click to enlarge.

At the CES in Las Vegas, Audi and its technology partner TTTech Computertechnik AG presented a prototype of the zFAS platform ECU for piloted driving. TTTEch is a leading provider of reliable network solutions based on time-triggered technology and modular safety platforms. (Earlier post.)

The highly integrated platform ECU zFAS is based on a complex multicore network, hosting sophisticated sensor fusion and a variety of innovative functions with multiple safety criticality levels for applications such as piloted parking or driving.

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BMW previews future driver assistance and connected vehicle developments at CES, including more automated driving

BMW selected the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 in Las Vegas as a venue at which to preview future developments and new applications of connected vehicle technology for series-produced vehicles.

Among these are a prototype for highly automated driving; vehicle functions on an electronic wristwatch (Samsung) as part of a research application; camera-based assistance systems bringing enhanced safety into new vehicle classes; and a new Parking Assistant with longitudinal and lateral guidance.

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Rice study: higher ethanol blends require different approach to deal with vapor intrusion in buildings; extreme event, low probability

December 16, 2013

A study lead by researchers at Rice University suggests that current approaches to manage the vapor intrusion risk into buildings in the vicinity of conventional fuel spills might need to be modified when dealing with some higher ethanol blend fuel (i.e., E20 up to E95) releases. The study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The basis of the concern is that ethanol-blended fuel spills usually stimulate methanogenesis in the subsurface, which could pose an explosion risk if methane accumulates in a confined space above the ground where ignitable conditions exist. The ethanol-derived methane may also increase the vapor intrusion potential of toxic fuel hydrocarbons (e.g., benzene) by stimulating the depletion of oxygen by the methanotrophs, and thus inhibiting aerobic biodegradation of hydrocarbon vapors.

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Ford unveils Fusion Hybrid research vehicle for autonomous driving

December 13, 2013

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Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle with four LiDAR sensors. Click to enlarge.

Ford, in conjunction with the University of Michigan and State Farm, unveiled a Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle that will be used to make progress on future autonomous driving and other advanced technologies.

The result of an ongoing project that builds on more than a decade of Ford’s automated driving research, the Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle will test current and future sensing systems and driver-assist technologies. Ford’s goal is to advance development of new technologies with its supplier partners so these features can be applied to the company’s next generation of vehicles.

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Volvo Car Group in multi-year, large-scale pilot project with autonomous cars on public roads

December 02, 2013

Volvo Car Group will take a leading role in the first large-scale autonomous driving pilot project in which 100 self-driving Volvo cars will use public roads in everyday driving conditions around the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

The project “Drive Me – Self-driving cars for sustainable mobility” is a joint initiative between Volvo Car Group, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park and the City of Gothenburg. The aim of the “Drive Me” project, which is endorsed by the Swedish Government, is to pinpoint the societal benefits of autonomous driving and position Sweden and Volvo Cars as leaders in the development of future mobility.

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Ford recalling Focus Electrics over electric powertrain propulsion failure

November 27, 2013

Ford Motor is recalling certain model year 2012-2014 Focus Electric vehicles manufactured from 15 September 15, 2011 through August 23, 2013. In the affected vehicles, a powertrain control module software fault may result in a sudden loss of motive power, increasing the risk of a crash.

According to the defect information report Ford filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 2,456 vehicles in the US and federalized territories are potentially affected. According to Ford’s monthly electrified vehicle sales and production report, the company has produced 2,911 units of the battery-electric vehicle in total through October 2013.

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TNO developing V2V Cooperative Automatic Emergency Braking system to help prevent accidents with cyclists

November 26, 2013

Dutch research organization TNO is developing a Cooperative Automatic Emergency Braking system (CAEB) for cars and trucks to help prevent accidents with cyclists, especially at and near junctions. The system relies on vehicle-to-vehicle communication between bikes, cars and trucks.

The system is based on TNO’s intelligent Vehicle Safety Platform (iVSP)—the same platform that enables automatic driving. The iVSP draws on various information sources (radar, communication, map data), seamlessly combining these data with the information gained from vehicle sensors and other information sources (surrounding infrastructure, bikes, pedestrians). With CAEB, the bicycle transmits its own position and speed with the aid of wireless communication, GPS and internal sensors.

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Toyota unveils Driver Awareness Research Vehicle

November 21, 2013

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DAR-V’s personalized information display on the side window. Click to enlarge.

Toyota used the Los Angeles Auto Show as the forum at which to unveil a Driver Awareness Research Vehicle (DAR-V). The DAR-V was developed in partnership with Microsoft Research to help reduce driver distractions before the key is even in the ignition. Utilizing Microsoft technologies such as Kinect, the interactive systems integrated into the design of the vehicle display important, highly personalized information on the side window when the driver approaches the car.

Using a combination of gesture control, voice and the key fob, drivers can navigate information such as updates on traffic and the weather, appointments and schedules for the day ahead, and even route details that might include a gas station if the vehicle is low on fuel. By addressing these critical daily priorities before even setting foot in the vehicle, a driver potentially has more mental bandwidth to focus on driving, Toyota suggests.

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Mazda suspends dealership test drives showcasing Smart City Brake Support after injury accident

November 12, 2013

Mazda is suspending all test drives intended to showcase the accident avoidance features of Smart City Brake Support until the cause of an accident with injuries in Japan involving the technology has been established and countermeasures taken.

On 10 November, there was an accident causing injury to a customer and a dealership employee during a test drive event to demonstrate safety features using a Mazda CX-5. The demonstration was organized and held by a company called Sakata Jidosha Kogyo, which runs three Mazda Autozam dealerships in Japan’s Saitama prefecture.

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Euro NCAP releases first results of testing with autonomous emergency braking systems

October 29, 2013

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The tested AEB systems can offer two functions: automatic braking and forward collision warning. Source: NCAP. Click to enlarge.

Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) released the first results of rear-end crash avoidance systems tested against the upcoming 2014 rating protocol. The testing compared 8 vehicles with respect to their performance on the test track.

Real world claims data suggest that Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems can reduce rear-end crashes by one quarter or more and lead to a significant reduction of injuries. From January 2014, Euro NCAP will give credit in its rating scheme to vehicle manufacturers that equip their models with robust forward collision warning and/or automatic braking technology.

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Panasonic develops high precision, wide field of view millimeter-wave radar technology for automotive applications

October 15, 2013

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The new high-precision radar keeps close objects separated. Click to enlarge.

Millimeter-wave radar is capable of detecting pedestrians and other vehicles in night time and under poor weather conditions. Panasonic Corporation has developed high precision, wide field of view millimeter-wave technologies that are able to detect cars, pedestrians and bicycles separately in less than 0.1 seconds, on the condition that they are separated by 20 cm.

These technologies will be applied to 79GHz radar, and utilized in detection sensors to avoid accidents occurring at intersections, accelerating the adoption of advanced safety support systems. These technologies also allow the operation of multiple millimeter radars, enables for a wider field of view (FOV) system.

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Toyota to launch advanced driving support system using automated driving technologies in mid-2010s; new pedestrian safety system

October 11, 2013

Toyota Motor Corporation has developed a next-generation advanced driving support system—Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA)—which uses automated driving technologies to support safer highway driving.

AHDA links two automated driving technologies to support safer driving and reduce driver workload: Cooperative-adaptive Cruise Control, which wirelessly communicates with preceding vehicles to maintain a safe distance; and Lane Trace Control, which aids steering to keep the vehicle on an optimal driving line within the lane.

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Nissan LEAF with semi-autonomous driver assistance systems cleared for public road testing in Japan; moving to Autonomous Drive

September 26, 2013

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The LEAF with semi-autonomous ADAS. Click to enlarge.

Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn took delivery of Japan’s first license plate for a car equipped with semi-autonomous advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). It clears the way for a Nissan LEAF equipped with the technology to be tested on the public roads in Japan for the first time. The research program will accelerate the development of technologies fundamental to Autonomous Drive (AD).

The systems are designed to allow the driver to manually take over control at any time. The license plate includes the number 2020, which reflects Nissan's goal to be ready with multiple, commercially-viable Autonomous Drive vehicles by the year 2020. (Earlier post.)

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SwRI to launch Automotive Consortium for Embedded Security (ACES)

As vehicles become increasingly dependent on computers to operate integrated systems, from engine timing to anti-lock brakes, it is crucial to safeguard those systems from outside threats. To investigate leading-edge technologies and understand and reduce the risk of attack, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is forming the Automotive Consortium for Embedded Security (ACES).

The joint industry program aims to provide pre-competitive and non-competitive research in automotive embedded systems security to protect the safety, reliability, brand image, trade secrets and privacy of client members’ future products. It is open to original equipment manufacturers and affiliated businesses in the automotive industry.

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Ko-Fas project finds cooperative transponders and cooperative perception technology could bring significant road safety benefits

September 25, 2013

The 17 partners—including vehicle manufacturers BMW and Daimler; suppliers Continental and Delphi; and universities, institutes of applied science and research establishments—in Germany’s €25-million (US$34-million), 4-year Cooperative Vehicle Safety (Ko-FAS) research initiative presented the final results from the project last week in Aschaffenburg, Germany. The results showed that use of cooperative transponder technologies in combination with cooperative perception technologies could bring important benefits for road safety.

The aim of this project was to improve road safety significantly, with an attendant reduction in the number of road traffic accidents and fatalities. The approach centered on accurate detection of traffic environments using cooperative sensing and perception, comprehensive situation assessment to precisely evaluate collision risks, and subsequent activation of appropriate advance protection measures.

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NHTSA adds rearview video systems to list of recommended safety technologies to encourage broader use

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will add rearview video systems to its list of recommended features under its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). NHTSA made the addition to the list of Recommended Advanced Technology Features to encourage improved rearview visibility for the nation’s motor vehicle fleet and to help prevent backover accidents while NHTSA researches implementation of a rear visibility rule in the form of an amendment to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) Nº 111 (rearview mirrors).

NHTSA will be including rearview video systems into the NCAP program in two phases. First, starting immediately, the agency will begin to identify on www.safercar.gov vehicle models that have rearview video systems. Next, as soon as the agency is able to verify that the vehicle model has a rearview video system meeting certain basic criteria, the agency will recognize those vehicle models as having this Recommended Advanced Technology Feature on www.safercar.gov.

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class INTELLIGENT DRIVE drives autonomously over 100km interurban and urban route with near-production technology

September 11, 2013

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Networked sensor systems of the S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE research vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz has demonstrated the feasibility of autonomous driving on both interurban and urban routes with its S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE research vehicle. The company set the vehicle to cover a 100 km (62-mile) route from Mannheim to Pforzheim—retracing that taken by motoring pioneer Bertha Benz exactly 125 years ago when she set off on the first long-distance drive.

The self-driving S-Class had to deal autonomously with a number of highly complex situations such as traffic lights, roundabouts, pedestrians, cyclists and trams. The successful drive was achieved with the aid of near-production-standard technology, very similar to that already found in the new E and S-Class. The project thus marks a milestone along the way that leads from the self-propelled (automobile) to the self-driving (autonomous) vehicle, the company said.

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Honda demonstrates advanced vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-motorcycle connected vehicle safety technologies

August 29, 2013

In Detroit, Honda demonstrated two experimental safety technologies based on Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) aimed at reducing the potential for collisions between automobiles and pedestrians and between automobiles and motorcycles.

These new technologies Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) and Vehicle-to-Motorcycle (V2M) technologies, while still in the research and testing phase, are part of a comprehensive effort being undertaken by Honda to develop leading-edge safety and driver assistive systems that can help predict and avoid traffic accidents through advanced sensing and communications technologies.

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Tesla says Model S comes out on top in US-NCAP crash testing with lowest Vehicle Safety Score

August 21, 2013

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Formulation of the overall vehicle rating according to US-NCAP based on weighted Relative Risk Scores (RRS). Source: NHTSA. Click to enlarge.

Tesla Motors announced that in recent US-NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) testing, the Model S earned an overall 5-star safety rating from NHTSA as well as 5 stars in each component test. The Model S also earned the lowest combined total Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) achieved by any vehicle that has undergone that testing since 2011: 0.42. In this case, lower is better: VSS is essentially a weighted average risk of personal injury resulting from the different NCAP crash tests.

The NCAP crash testing is used to formulate the 5-star safety rating applied to vehicles by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). While NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, Tesla said that safety levels “better than 5 stars” are captured in the VSS data for the vehicles that have been tested. Based on the data, Tesla said, it achieved a combined record of “5.4 stars”. While the Model S is a sedan, it also exceeded the safety score of all SUVs and minivans, according to Tesla.

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