Driver Assistance Systems

 

Nearly 680,000 – almost one-quarter – of the 2.95 million new cars registered in Germany last year can do just that: warn a tired driver before he or she causes an accident. This makes driver drowsiness detection the driver assistance function most frequently installed in new cars.

 

"An essential step on the way to eradicating road fatalities"

 

"Driver assistance systems are an essential step on the way to 'vision zero,' the goal of eradicating road fatalities," says Gerhard Steiger, president of the Chassis Systems Control division. This goal is also reflected in Euro NCAP's new rating scheme, which is pushing the adoption of predictive emergency braking systems and lane-keeping assistants.

And it's having an effect on the production numbers for the sensors that are essential to the assistance systems: "Bosch expects to sell over two million radar and video sensors in 2014, more than twice as many as last year," says Steiger.

The six assistance systems used most often in new cars are listed below in order of increasing frequency:

 

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and ACC Stop & Go – in 4% of all new cars
Relaxed driving despite heavy traffic: ACC usually works with a radar sensor and maintains a preset safety distance to the car ahead, even in heavy traffic. By automatically accelerating and braking, the system adjusts the speed to the flow of traffic while ensuring a smooth and fuel-efficient ride. In the Stop & Go version, ACC slows a car down in a traffic jam, even stopping it completely. If the car has an automatic transmission, ACC Stop & Go restarts the engine once traffic gets moving again after a short pause.
 

Ultimately, the driver is relieved of tiring driving tasks and remains alert for longer. Of the new cars registered in Germany in 2013, 4 % have ACC or ACC Stop & Go. By offering more cost-effective sensors, such as the mid-range radar sensor, Bosch is increasing market penetration and making driver assistance systems such as ACC and ACC Stop & Go affordable, even for small and compact cars

 

Road-sign recognition – in 4% of all new cars
From speed limits to no-passing zones – 4% of all new cars in 2013 feature road-sign recognition, which makes it easier for drivers to navigate the "road-sign jungle." A video camera reads traffic signs and presents relevant information as symbols in the dashboard.

As well as its system designed for in-vehicle installation, Bosch has also developed a free road-sign recognition solution for smartphone users. The "myDriveAssist" app, available from the App Store and Google Play, uses the smartphone's internal camera to recognize road signs.
 
Lane assistance – in 10% of all new cars
Lane assistants are installed in 10% of all new cars registered in 2013. These assistants comprise three systems. The lane-departure warning system prevents accidents by warning the driver, for example by vibrating the steering wheel, when he or she unintentionally leaves the lane. The lane-keeping assistant goes a step further: when the car gets too close to the edge of the lane, the system steers gently but firmly in the opposite direction.

By contrast, the lane-changing assistant monitors the area alongside and diagonally to the rear of the vehicle. A warning lamp on the side mirror warns the driver whenever another car is approaching at speed from behind or if one is already present in the blind spot. According to Germany's GIDAS accident database, lane-keeping assistants can prevent up to 28% of accidents caused by cars leaving the lane unintentionally.
 
 
Automatic emergency braking – in 11% of all new cars
Rear-end collisions are among the worst accidents on the road, especially if pedestrians or cyclists are involved. An automatic emergency braking system can avoid them or at least mitigate the consequences. When the system identifies a possible obstacle, the assistant prepares the braking system for an emergency stop, or automatically triggers one if the driver fails to react.

This kind of predictive pedestrian protection will be required starting in 2016 to qualify for Euro NCAP's highest rating of five stars. The benefits of the system have already been recognized: up to 72% of all rear-end collisions in Germany that result in personal injury could be avoided if all vehicles had an automatic emergency braking system. In 2013, 11% of all new cars had one installed. 
 
Intelligent headlight control – in 20% of all new cars
The objective of equipping a vehicle with intelligent headlight controls is to see and be seen better. When driving at night or in a tunnel, the assistant automatically turns the low-beam headlights on or off as required. If the headlight control sees no cars in front or oncoming traffic, it also automatically switches on the high beams (provided the vehicle isn't in a built-up area).

There's more: intelligent headlight controls can also constantly adjust the headlights to the course of the road or continuously switch between low and high beams. As a result, the system ensures the best possible illumination without blinding other road users. Of all the new cars registered in 2013, 20% have intelligent headlight control. 
 
Drowsiness detection – in 23% of all new cars
Microsleep, diminishing concentration, and fatigue while at the wheel are highly dangerous and cause many accidents. However, the initial signs can be detected early on: tired, distracted drivers steer less precisely and have to make small corrections more often. Bosch's driver drowsiness detection system constantly analyzes the driver's steering behavior using a steering angle sensor or the electrical power steering to spot patterns typical of fatigue.

The system also registers any abrupt, small steering motions. Supplemented by further parameters (such as length of time already driven and time of day), the system can identify the warning signs of fatigue. It then sends an auditory or visual signal telling the driver to take a break before he or she begins to nod off. A drowsiness detection system can be found in 23% of new cars registered in 2013.