[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.]
Toyota and Lexus roll-out low-cost automated braking safety packages on RAV4 Hybrid and RX crossover
March 30, 2015
At separate press conferences Wednesday and Thursday at the New York Auto Show, Toyota will reveal the RAV4 Hybrid SUV, while Lexus unveils its all-new fourth-generation RX luxury crossover SUV. Both debuts will mark the arrival of new, multi-feature, integrated safety packages, each anchored by automated pre-collision braking and offered at a price below comparable systems across the auto industry.
Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) and Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) are designed to support the driver’s awareness, decision making and vehicle operation over a wide range of speeds. Packaged together in an integrated system, their features help address three key areas of accident protection: preventing or mitigating rear collisions; keeping drivers within their lane; and enhancing road safety during night time driving. The systems are intended to address commonly occurring crash types according to traffic accident statistical analyses.
Opel developing eye-tracking technology to guide headlights
March 12, 2015
Engineers at Opel, in collaboration with the Technical University of Darmstadt, are developing eye-tracking technology for application in a third-generation of automotive adaptive lighting that will be introduced after the current AFL+ bi-xenon system. The concept is that the driver’s eye movements will control the direction and intensity of light.
High-performance eye-tracking systems can require 5 to 10 cameras; for the Opel system, the researchers began with a simple webcam. Focused on the driver’s head, it scanned prominent points, such as the nose and eyes, to detect movement and thereby the driver’s line of sight.
Global NCAP calls for universal application of minimum vehicle safety standards in all world markets by 2020
March 11, 2015
Millions of new cars sold in middle and low income countries fail to meet the UN’s basic safety standards for front and side impacts, according to international automotive safety watchdog Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Program). Global NCAP has released a new policy report, “Democratising Car Safety: Road Map for Safer Cars 2020”, calling for minimum vehicle safety standards to be applied universally in all world markets.
World Health Organization (WHO) figures put the annual death toll from road crashes worldwide at 1.3 million people, while up to 50 million are injured in those crashes. The global vehicle fleet reached 1 billion units in 2010 and is forecast to double in the next ten to fifteen years, with much of this increase occurring in low and middle income countries which account for 90% of total road deaths.
Volvo Cars providing 1,000 test vehicles for Scandinavian cloud-based project for sharing road surface information
February 13, 2015
Volvo Cars, the Swedish Transport Administration and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration are collaborating on a development and demonstration project to enable cars to share information through a cloud-based network about conditions that relate to road friction (such as icy patches). (Earlier post.) The Road Surface Information (RSI) system combines the latest generation of climate models, advanced analysis of vehicle data and a detailed statistical analysis of road sections.
With the technology development in place, the testing and validation phase is now about to begin. In this phase, Volvo Cars will both expand the test fleet 20-fold (from about 50 cars to 1,000) and broaden the test area to include two big Scandinavian cities: Gothenburg and Oslo. Together, these measures will provide a more complete picture of how the system will work in real winter traffic conditions.
NHTSA releases two new studies on impaired driving on US roads; drunk driving down, drug use up
February 07, 2015
The nation’s decades-long campaign to combat drunk driving continues to make roads safer, but use of marijuana and prescription drugs is increasingly prominent on the highways, creating new safety questions, according to a pair of new studies released by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
One study, the latest version of NHTSA’s Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, found that the number of drivers with alcohol in their system has declined by nearly one-third since 2007, and by more than three-quarters since the first Roadside Survey in 1973. But that same survey found a large increase in the number of drivers using marijuana or other illegal drugs. In the 2014 survey, nearly one in four drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could affect safety.
Battelle/Concurrent Technologies Corporation technology positioning paper: Improving Li-ion battery safety without decreasing energy density
February 05, 2015
Ed. introduction: The following technology positioning paper is a joint effort by a team from Battelle and Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC). The paper outlines the technology landscape and the opportunities that exist in the area of improved Li-ion battery safety.
Energy is a common technology area on which both research organizations focus in different ways, noted Dr. Vicki Barbur, CTC Senior Vice President and CTO. The two have decided that Li-ion battery safety is an area of opportunity for each. Supported by an ARPA-E award, Battelle recently developed an optical sensor to monitor the internal environment of a lithium-ion battery in real-time. (Earlier post.) The organizations intend to pursue further efforts directed toward safety in relation to Li-ion battery technology. Interest and involvement from external clients would be welcomed.
NHTSA announces follow-up recall of 2.12 million cars and SUVs over TRW airbag defects
January 31, 2015
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today the recall of more than 2.12 million Acura, Dodge, Jeep, Honda, Pontiac, and Toyota vehicles from model years 2002 to 2004 for a defect that may cause airbags to deploy inadvertently.
The vehicles were subject to earlier recalls to address a problem with an electronic component manufactured by TRW that caused some airbags to deploy in the absence of a crash. The recalls will provide vehicle owners with a new remedy after the manufacturers’ original attempts to fix the defects proved ineffective in some vehicles.
NHTSA to include 2 automatic emergency braking systems in NCAP recommendations
January 25, 2015
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to add two advanced automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems—crash imminent braking (CIB) and dynamic brake support (DBS)—to the recommended advanced safety features included under its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).
The addition is the latest in a long history of safety innovations covered in a new NHTSA's new report, which uses data from the agency’s Fatal Accident Reporting System to create a statistical model that estimated safety technologies have saved 613,501 lives since 1960.
Jaguar Land Rover “Bike Sense” uses color, sound and vibration to help prevent accidents involving bicycles and motorbikes
January 21, 2015
|Jaguar Land Rover is developing a range of new technologies that would use colors, sounds and touch inside the car to alert drivers to potential hazards and prevent accidents involving bicycles and motorbikes. Click to enlarge.|
At its Advanced Research Center in the UK, Jaguar Land Rover is developing a range of new technologies it calls “Bike Sense” that uses colors, sounds and touch (vibration) inside the car to alert drivers to potential hazards and prevent accidents involving bicycles and motorbikes. Nearly 19,000 cyclists are killed or injured on UK roads every year.
Sensors on the car will detect when another road user is approaching and identify it as bicycle or motorbike. Bike Sense will then make the driver aware of the potential hazard before the driver sees it. Rather than using a generic warning icon or sound, which takes time for the driver’s brain to process, Bike Sense uses lights and sounds that the driver will instinctively associate with the potential danger.
UMTRI researchers suggests safety expectations for self-driving vehicles may be overblown
January 16, 2015
In a new white paper, a team from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) discussed issues related to road safety with self-driving vehicles and concludes that expectations for improved road safety may be, in some cases, overblown.
In their paper, Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle assessed safety from four perspectives: 1) Can self-driving vehicles compensate for contributions to crash causation by other traffic participants, as well as vehicular, roadway, and environmental factors? (2) Can all relevant inputs for computational decisions be supplied to a self-driving vehicle? (3) Can computational speed, constant vigilance, and lack of distractibility of self-driving vehicles make predictive knowledge of an experienced driver irrelevant? (4) How would road safety be influenced during the expected long transition period during which conventional and self-driving vehicles would need to interact on the road?
Honda introducing first predictive cruise control system in CR-V in Europe
January 09, 2015
Honda will introduce in Europe the first predictive cruise control system, which Honda calls Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (i-ACC), capable of foreseeing and automatically reacting to other vehicles cutting-in to the equipped vehicle’s lane.
Based on extensive real-world research of typical European driving styles, Honda’s Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (i-ACC) uses a camera and radar to sense the position of other vehicles on the road. It then applies an algorithm to predict the likelihood of vehicles in neighboring lanes cutting-in by evaluating relations between multiple vehicles, enabling the i-ACC-equipped vehicle to react quickly, safely and comfortably.
Hyundai showcasing augmented reality, wearables and ADAS tech at 2015 CES
January 05, 2015
Hyundai is showcasing a collection of new technologies at the 2015 CES, highlighting a new augmented reality Head Up Display (HUD); new connectivity and 3D-gesture controls; and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).
Augmented reality head-up display system and wearables. Basic Head-Up Displays (HUD) appeared in cars the late 1980s, when they only offered the speedometer as a virtual image projected onto the windshield. The HUD found inside the 2015 Genesis includes driving information such as Smart Cruise Control status, navigation, Blind Spot Detection, and Forward Collision and Lane Departure Warnings. At CES, Hyundai is showcasing a production-ready augmented reality HUD concept.
Sandia Labs and Linde partner to expand hydrogen fueling network; performance-based design for stations
December 17, 2014
|New Linde hydrogen station. Click to enlarge.|
Sandia National Laboratories and Linde LLC have signed an umbrella Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) they expect to accelerate the development of low-carbon energy and industrial technologies, beginning with hydrogen and fuel cells.
The CRADA will begin with two new research and development projects to accelerate the expansion of hydrogen fueling stations to continue to support the market growth of fuel cell electric vehicles now emerging from the major auto manufacturers. The first will focus on performance-based design for hydrogen stations. The second focuses on safety aspects of the NFPA code.
Jaguar Land Rover developing transparent pillar and ‘follow-me’ ghost car navigation
December 15, 2014
Jaguar Land Rover has launched a research project to develop technologies that will offer drivers a 360˚ view out of their vehicle (“360 Virtual Urban Windscreen”), uninterrupted by the pillars that support the roof. The company is also exploring “Follow-Me Ghost Car Navigation”, which uses a “ghost car” projected in front of the car for a driver to follow, aiding navigation on busy urban roads.
With “360 Virtual Urban Windscreen”, a screen would be embedded in the surface of each pillar inside the car and would take a live video feed from cameras covering the angles outside the car usually obscured in the blind spots created by the A, B and C-pillars. Pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles would be visible all around the car—and by combining the transparent pillars with an advanced high quality Heads-Up display, the movement of other road users could be highlighted to the driver with an on-screen halo moving across the car’s virtual windshield.
DOT and Battelle release findings and lessons learned from V2X Transit Safety Retrofit Package project
December 13, 2014
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) and Battelle have released the latest findings and lessons learned from the Transit Safety Retrofit Package (TRP). The TRP project aimed to design and develop safety applications for transit buses that can communicate using vehicle-to-vehicle as well as vehicle-to-infrastructure connected vehicle technologies for enhanced transit bus and pedestrian safety.
The project was part of the USDOT’s Safety Pilot Model Deployment, a large-scale field demonstration of the potential benefits of 5.9 GHz dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) wireless technology that is supporting related decisions by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Toyota bringing vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems to some new models in Japan in 2015
November 26, 2014
Starting next year, some of Toyota Motor Corporation’s new models will be compatible with advanced vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems that use a wireless frequency reserved for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). This compatibility will be offered as an option for the “Toyota Safety Sense P” active safety package that will be made available in 2015 on select new models sold in Japan.
The systems will use the dedicated ITS frequency of 760 MHz for road-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-vehicle communication to gather information that cannot be obtained by onboard sensors. At intersections with poor visibility, information about oncoming vehicles and pedestrians detected by sensors above the road will be conveyed via road-to-vehicle communication, and information about approaching vehicles will be conveyed via vehicle-to-vehicle communication, with audio and visual alerts warning drivers when necessary.
Delphi and CMU spinout Ottomatika partner to accelerate automated driving; “connected automation”
November 22, 2014
Delphi Automotive PLC, which already offers a suite of advanced driver assistance systems, will partner with Ottomatika, Inc., a spinout from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) led by Dr. Raj Rajkumar which provides advanced automated driving software, jointly to develop technology that will help accelerate automated driving.
Dr. Rajkumar is a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at CMU; co-director of the CMU-Penn T-SET (Technologies for Sade and Efficient Transportation) UTC (US DOT University Transportation Center); co-director of the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Vehicular Information Technology Collaborative Research Lab; and led the development of the CMU advanced Autonomous Cadillac SRX. (Earlier post.)
NXP and partners launch European test drive to showcase the future of Communicating Cars
November 12, 2014
|Ready for the test drive. Click to enlarge.|
NXP Semiconductors N.V. and industry partners Siemens, Honda, and Cohda Wireless have launched a “Communicating Cars” test drive along the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) Corridor across Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Starting from the electronica trade show in Munich yesterday, the tour will see a convoy of Honda smart vehicles drive through 1300 km (808 miles) of roads, including ITS test fields in Munich, Vienna and Helmond fitted with Siemens intelligent traffic infrastructure.
The demo cars, which are fitted with secure NXP communications technology, will showcase the benefits of smarter traffic control including improved road safety and reduced pollution.
Ford will roll out new Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection system in Ford and Lincoln vehicles globally
October 23, 2014
Ford Motor Company is introducing a new driver-assist system that can reduce the severity of or even eliminate some frontal collisions involving vehicles and pedestrians. Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection will debut as available technology on the 2015 Ford Mondeo on sale in Europe this year. (Earlier post.) It will then roll out to other Ford and Lincoln products around the world.
Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection uses radar and camera technology to scan the roadway ahead and, if a collision risk with a vehicle or pedestrian is detected, provides a warning to the driver. If the driver does not respond in time, the system can automatically apply up to full braking force to help reduce the severity of or even eliminate some frontal collisions. Pre-Collision Assist may help drivers avoid rear end collisions with other vehicles at all speeds, while Pedestrian Detection can help the driver avoid pedestrians at lower speeds—both may reduce the severity of forward collisions or even prevent certain forward collisions.
Toyota expands Collaborative Safety Research Center with $35M; focus on transition to automated vehicle and connected vehicle technologies
September 04, 2014
With a new $35-million commitment that extends the center’s effort to the 2020s, Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) is significantly expanding its mission to advance automotive safety research, with a new focus on the challenges and opportunities that evolving vehicle technologies will present over the next decade. CSRC will concentrate on supporting a safe transition to the future of mobility, particularly through emerging automated- and connected-vehicle technologies.
The CSRC was formed in January 2011 with three charter members; the first phase of research will conclude in 2016. Research under the new mission will focus on: developing human/machine interface (HMI) guidelines for next-generation automated and connected vehicle systems; the optimal user skills to operate these technologies safely; and the challenges posed by a US vehicle fleet that will likely feature automated and connected vehicles, as well as traditional ones, traveling the same roads.
Mercedes-Benz developing Blind Spot Assist system for heavy-duty trucks
September 02, 2014
|An LED warning light on the A-pillar on the co-driver’s side and an acoustic warning alert the driver to an impending collision. Click to enlarge.|
Collisions when turning corners are among the most common and most serious types of accidents associated with trucks and unprotected road users. To address this, Mercedes-Benz is developing a Blind Spot Assist system for its heavy-duty trucks. The system, which utilizes a radar sensor monitoring the area next to the co-driver’s side of the truck, reliably warns the driver about dangers when turning corners in critical situations with restricted vision.
The system also takes into account the tractix curve of the semitrailer and therefore also warns if there is a danger of a collision with stationary obstacles such as traffic lights or street lamps. It also supports the driver when changing lanes.
NHTSA releases advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on V2V, supporting research report
August 18, 2014
The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) and a supporting comprehensive research report on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology. NHTSA is working to deliver a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by 2016.
The report will include analysis of the Department’s research findings in several key areas including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits, while the ANPRM seeks public input on these findings to support the Department’s regulatory work to eventually require V2V devices in new light vehicles.
Virginia Tech Transportation Inst. investigating adaptive stop/yield traffic signs; part of connected vehicle research
August 04, 2014
|VTTI test display for adaptive road signs. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) are in the early stages of investigating the development of adaptive stop and yield traffic signs. The concept is to replace conventional roadside stop and yield signs with an in-vehicle display that would automatically alert the driver of what actions to take, if any. If no other car is present at the intersection, the driver would be allowed to pass through and go on—i.e., without halting before proceeding.
Alexandria Noble is spearheading the proof of concept adaptive stop-yield study with funding from the US Department of Transportation and under direction of her adviser and project manager, Thomas A. Dingus, the institute’s director and an endowed professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. Noble is the first student in the newly launched Human Factors Transportation Safety Graduate Certificate Program, led by the transportation institute.
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.
New Volvo XC90 offering two new enhanced automated safety features and new automatic parking capability
July 22, 2014
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.