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euroFOT study demonstrates how driver assistance systems can increase safety and fuel efficiency

euroFOT brought together 28 partners testing 8 functionalities using more than 1,000 vehicles. Source: euroFOT. Click to enlarge.

The euroFOT consortium published the findings of a four-year study focused on the impact of driver assistance systems in the Europe. The €22-million (US$27.4-million ) European Field Operational Test (euroFOT) project—which began in June 2008 and involved 28 companies and organisations—was led by Aria Etemad from Ford’s European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany.

The study looked at existing technologies and their potential to both enhance safety and reduce environmental impact. euroFOT also revealed a link between these systems and improvements in driver behavior, fuel efficiency and traffic safety, as well as overall cost savings.

More than 90% of the accidents throughout the European Union are attributable in some way to driver behavior, according to euroFOT. Driver Assistance technologies such as those tested in euroFOT may have a positive effect on driver behavior and improving the understanding of their potential to impact road safety, traffic efficiency and the environment, according to the consortium.

For more than 12 months, one thousand cars and trucks equipped with advanced driver assistance systems travelled European roads, and, for most of them, at each turn, acceleration, and lane change, their movements were tracked and recorded. The field test focused on eight distinct vehicle functions that assist drivers in detecting hazards and avoiding accidents:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) uses headway sensors to continuously measure the distance to other vehicles, automatically adjusting the speed to ensure the vehicle does not get too close to the one in front. The driver activates the cruise control by setting the desired maximum speed and then selecting the time gap to the vehicles in front. ACC then adjusts the vehicle’s speed to match that of preceding vehicle as necessary.

    ACC was tested by Ford, MAN, Volvo Cars, Volvo Trucks and Volkswagen.

  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW). Forward Collision Warning (FCW) can help avoid rear-end impacts or minimise the effects of these type of collisions. A radar installation continuously scans the area in front of a vehicle. If it then approaches too close to another vehicle, then the driver is alerted via sound and light signals. If the risk of a collision increases despite the warnings, the brakes are pre-charged to prepare for efficient braking by the driver. When a collision is imminent and the driver doe not react, the car automatically brakes to reduce the impact of the accident. There are variations in the level of implementation of brake support in different models. (some models will only have FCW).

    FCW was tested by Ford, MAN, Volvo Cars and Volvo Trucks.

  • Speed Regulation System (SRS). Speed Regulation System was tested on Renault cars. The trials were operated and analysed by CEESAR and INRETS research centers.

  • Blind Spot Information System (BLIS). Blind Spot Information System uses small cameras in each side mirror to detect when a car or motorcycle has entered the driver’s blind spot. A warning light then indicates that another vehicle is in that position. The system is able to recognize and ignore the car’s own shadow, and also works at night.

    BLIS was tested by Volvo Cars.

  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Impairment Warning (IW). Lane Departure Warning (LDW) assists the driver to maintain his/her lane position, giving a warning if the vehicle crosses lane markings unintentionally. The warning can be acoustic or haptic (vibration or small torque on the steering wheel or driver’s seat). The system maintains the vehicle position by detecting lane markings or street boundaries via a video sensor. A warning occurs only above a certain minimum speed. Specific driver actions, e.g. setting the indicator, suppress the warning. The system is intended to operate on highways or equivalent roads, and can if necessary be switched off by the driver.

    Impairment Warning (IW) alerts tired and distracted drivers. A camera monitors the car’s movements between the lane markings and calculates the risk of the driver losing control of the vehicle. A message in the display advises the driver if it is time to take a break.

    LDW and IW were tested by Audi, Fiat, MAN, Volvo and Volkswagen.

  • Curve Speed Warning (CSW). Curve-speed warning (CSW) technology has been developed to help drivers identify potentially dangerous situations if a bend in the road is taken too fast, and warn the driver in advance allowing him time to react properly. The information about such bends is drawn from pre-existing digital maps of the road and analysis of the geometric characteristics of the bend. By combining this information with external factors such as weather conditions and estimates of road friction, the maximum recommended speed for the bend is estimated. If the vehicle is approaching at a speed higher than the recommended value, the system can warn the driver of the potential hazard, prepare the safety systems in the vehicle, or actively inhibit further acceleration of the vehicle.

    The overall performance of digital map-based CSW can be significantly improved with the addition of vision-based sensors such as Lane Detection and Tracking (LDT) and vision-based rain sensing. The lane-detection module can provide additional information about the shape and distance to the approaching bend, refining in this way the estimate of the maximum recommended speed. The vision-based rain sensor is able to detect rain-drops on the windshield and estimate the reduced road friction, an important parameter for the CSW module.

    In addition to warning signals and active interventions, CSW may also assist the user during night driving by means of adaptive front lighting (AFL). This technology is able to adapt the shape, intensity and direction of the light beam to follow the direction of the road. By adjusting the direction of the light beam, AFL can prepare the driver for oncoming bends and guide him/her in the right direction, even before he/she can see the bend. This technology also helps reduce the blinding effect from the headlights of oncoming vehicles, offering increased driver comfort as well as improved vehicle safety.

    Curve Speed Warning was tested by Ford.

  • Safe human/machine interface (SafeHMI). For all in-vehicle information and communication systems intended for use by the driver while the vehicle is in motion, for example, navigation systems and traffic information, essential safe design and use aspects for the human/machine interface need to be taken into account.

    Navigation system: the navigation system provides location and route guidance information to the driver. Several different types of system (e.g. OEM fitment, after-market solution) with different display positions and technologies (e.g. central information display, head-up, or separate detachable display) are already on the market.

    Head-Up Display: the BMW Head-Up Display puts selected information directly in the driver’s line of sight. This virtual display is projected onto the windscreen and can be easily seen in all light conditions. The driver, by avoiding the need to refocus from long distance to close up, can take in information such as speed or route directions far more quickly.

    SafeHMI was tested by BMW and Daimler.

  • Fuel Efficiency Advisor (FEA). Dynafleet, a transport information system from Volvo Trucks, provides in real time the current location of vehicles, their fuel consumption, messages, driver times, service intervals and much more. Fuel-efficient driving, or eco-driving, is supported through on-board functions for the driver as well as follow-up reports in the back-office system Dynafleet Online.

    FEA was tested by Volvo.

More than hundred terabytes of data were collected and analyzed, providing the basis for the euroFOT consortium to assess the impact of these systems on European roads.

Key findings included:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW). Cars equipped with both systems could potentially affect up to 5.7% of the injury accidents on motorways, while trucks could potentially affect up to 0.6% of these accidents. euroFOT findings concluded that ACC and FCW in passenger cars might have a positive effect on the overall crash statistics, for all road types. Additionally, positive indirect effects on traffic efficiency could be identified.

    Due to the potential reduction of accidents the annual incidental delay calculated in lost vehicle hours could be lowered about more than three million hours on an EU-27 level. The environmental impact, which was measured in terms of fuel consumption, showed a reduction of about 3% for passenger cars and 2% for trucks without considering the benefits from changes in traffic efficiency. Drivers participating in the study also noted that ACC and FCW was a highly appreciated and used function that increased driver comfort as well as safety.

  • Navigation Systems. The analysis shows that navigation systems are highly accepted and widely used, particularly on long trips on unfamiliar routes. These systems allow a fuel efficient route choice, depending on their routing algorithm. Overall, the positive effect on driver behavior is reflected in positive changes in lane keeping behavior, distance to the lead vehicle and harsh braking events.

  • Blind Spot Information System (BLIS). Approximately 80% of drivers felt that BLIS increases safety. It is perceived as most useful on urban roads in heavy traffic and is not perceived as increasing workload. On written feedback, most drivers consider BLIS as an important complement to visual checks, rather than as a primary source of information.

  • Speed Regulation System (SRS = Speed Limiter (SL) + Cruise Control (CC)). It was observed that over-speeding and harsh braking events were reduced when SL is active. The effect of CC on over-speeding was a strong increase while strong jerk, critical time gap, and harsh braking occurrences were reduced.

  • Curve Speed Warning (CSW). According to the survey, around 75% of the drivers felt that safety is increased thanks to CSW. They also found it most useful while driving on rural roads. Some participants stated that they used CSW as an indicator or for practicing a more defensive driving. euroFOT also found that participants trusted the system more after CSW usage. The trustworthy and reliable scores were statistically significantly higher after some experience with the system.

Socio-economic impact. If widely deployed across the EU, the systems studied by euroFOT could potentially reduce accidents and resources. The socio-economic assessment reveals a cost benefit ratio of 1.3 to 1.8 for ACC in trucks.

Using the ACC and FCW systems for cars and trucks, euroFOT determined that the costs of equipping the passenger cars and heavy trucks with the combined system leads to annual savings of approximately €1.2 billion (US$1.5 billion) for passenger cars and approximately €180 million (US$224 million) for heavy goods trucks.

As a result of the euroFOT findings, it is recommended that drivers should consider these functions when buying a new vehicle. Drivers should also follow the on-going development of advanced driver systems. The widespread uptake of these systems throughout the EU-27 can improve efficiency, increase safety and can save money.

euroFOT. euroFOT, the first large-scale European Field Operational Test (FOT) of advanced driver assistance systems, is a consortium of 28 organisations, including car manufacturers, suppliers, universities, research institutes and other stakeholders. euroFOT developed the first large scale Field Operational Test, with a focus on intelligent vehicles equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and used by ordinary drivers in real traffic.

euroFOT’s motivation was to evaluate different on-board functions with regard to traffic safety, efficiency and the environment. In addition, usability and acceptance were exhaustively evaluated. It is particularly relevant to the European Commission White paper “European Road Safety Action Programme 2011-2020”, which was published in 2010 aiming to cut road deaths in Europe in half in the next decade. This collaborative research project ran from May 2008 until June 2012 and was supported by funds from the European Commission’s Information Society and Media Directorate-General (DG INFSO) under the seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for research and technological development. The final results were presented in Brussels on the 26-27 June 2012.

The euroFOT consortium members include Ford, BMW, Daimler AG, Centro Ricerche Fiat, MAN Truck & Bus AG, Volvo Car Corporation, Volvo Technology Corporation, Audi Volkswagen AG, Bosch, Continental, Delphi, Harman International, Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (ICCS), Bundesanstalt fur Strassenwesen (BAST), RWTH Aachen fuer Institut fur Kraftfahrwesen Aachen (ika), Centre Européen d’Etudes de Sécurité et d’Analyse des Risques (CEESAR), Chalmers Tekniska Hoegskola Aktiebolag, Fundación para la Promoción de la Innovación, Investigación y Desarrollo Tecnológico de la Industria de Automoción de Galicia (CTAG), University of Leeds,Institut français des sciences et technologies des transports, de l’aménagement et des réseaux (IFSTTAR), Interdisziplinaeres Zentrum fur Verkehrswissenschaftenan der Universitaet Wuerzburg (IZVW), Politecnico di Torino, Nederlandse Organisatie voor toegepast-natuurwetenschappelijk onderzoek (TNO),Allianz Center for Technology, ADAS, ALCOR, ERTICO – ITS Europe and European Center for Information and Communication Technologies GmbH (EICT).



This could become one of the lowest cost way to reduce fuel consumption and pollution, reduce health care and repair cost and to drastically reduce incidents, accidents, property damages, insurance cost, injuries and fatalities.

It is as common sense as helmets. The soonest the better.

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