Intelligent Vehicle Safety Systems (IVSS) that use advanced Information and Communication Technology for providing new, intelligent solutions have great potential in solving road transport safety problems. In an integrated and global approach to safety, the autonomous onboard safety systems are complemented with cooperative technologies, which use vehicle to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication to get information about the road environment for assessing the potential hazards and optimising the functioning of the on-board safety systems. To get acquainted with some of the names of these systems, you can consult the list of eSafety system acronyms.
The eSafety Forum’s Implementation Road Map Working Group has assessed the key priority IVSS systems that are expected to help reduce road fatalities in Europe already in the short and medium-term, and they are listed below.
For virtual demonstrations of many of these systems, check out the eSafety Interactive Car
Autonomous vehicle-based systems
ESC (Electronic stability control)
ESC stabilises the vehicle and prevents skidding within the physical limits by active brake intervention on one or more wheels and intelligent engine torque management. In this way, ESC helps the driver to stabilise the vehicle — although the extent to which it can do so is of course limited by the physical laws governing the dynamic behaviour of the vehicle.
A vertical-axis rotation sensor and a lateral acceleration sensor monitor the movement of the vehicle and compares the actual value with the target value calculated on the basis of the driver’s steering input and the vehicle speed. The moment the car deviates from the intended path, ESC intervenes to counteract any incipient tendency to skid by applying a precisely metered braking force to one or more wheels. ESC systems combine the functions of ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and TCS (Traction Control System) and complement them with directional stability assistance.
Several accident studies have proven that ESC significantly reduces the number of fatalities, on average between 15 and 20%. It especially has an impact on slippery road surfaces and in other situations in which a driver loses control of the vehicle.
An adaptive headlights system consists of electromechanical-controlled headlights to ensure optimum illumination of a lane in road curves or bends. Processing data such as vehicle speed, steering wheel angle and the rotation of the car around its vertical axis, the headlight is directed into the bend as soon as the vehicle begins cornering. A reduction of the glare for oncoming vehicles is also possible.
Adaptive headlights help drivers at night, twilight or in other situations with poor visibility — especially accidents involving parked or stopped vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and animals. Nevertheless, the overall safety effect of adaptive headlights depends on how drivers modify their behaviour to the increased visibility conditions.
Obstacle and collision warning (Longitudinal support and collision warning)
A collision warning system informs drivers when it detects the imminent danger of a collision with an obstacle in the vehicle path. The system is most often incorporated into vehicles with radar- or laser-based adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts the vehicle speed and distance to that of a target vehicle. A camera may also be used for additional input. The combined information provides a reliable picture of the road scene and is especially helpful in conditions of poor visibility or when the driver is distracted or overstrained.
A collision warning system has several advantages over human performance in helping to avoid collisions, including its ability to continuously monitor the road ahead and react quickly and automatically to danger. It can especially have an effect on the likelihood and severity of rear-end collisions.
Blind spot monitoring
When using the rear-view mirror, drivers normally have blind spots on both sides of the vehicle. Wide angle side mirrors can help reduce these areas, but blind spot monitoring systems using camera techniques with image processing or radar sensors can provide additional information. Using warning signals, they are able to provide better information about the blind spot area and a possible obstacle.
Blind spot monitoring systems can also help drivers to prevent side collisions by making them more aware of other vehicles in close proximity.
Lane departure warning (Lane keeping assistant)
A lane departure warning system is automatically triggered when the driver mistakenly allows the vehicle to stray out of his/her lane. When a vehicle is about to move across the road marking, video sensors detect the movement and activate an acoustic, visual or haptic warning, allowing the driver to be aware and, if wanted, take immediate action to get back into the lane. Active lane-keeping systems support the driver through additional and perceptible force, i.e. such as in the steering wheel.
A lane departure warning system can especially reduce the likelihood and severity of head-on or side collisions and single vehicle accidents.
Dynamic traffic management and Local Danger Warnings
Dynamic traffic management systems, together with local danger warnings, are systems based on the interaction between the infrastructure and the vehicle. They provide the driver with different messages or warnings in order to increase the safety and flow of traffic in cases of disturbance caused by incidents, congestion or adverse weather.
The systems are operated automatically, semi-automatically or manually from traffic control centres based on fixed monitoring systems or mobile sensors installed on vehicles acting as a sensor for the road network (Floating Car Data). Variable Message Signs (electronic traffic signs) are used to give the information to drivers, including regulatory, danger warning and informative messages.
Dynamic traffic management systems can harmonise the traffic flow and manage vehicle speeds according to the prevailing conditions, which has been shown to reduce fatal and injury-causing accidents. The impacts of the system depend on the quality of the traffic management system and the level of traffic volumes. In addition, they can improve the efficiency of the transport system, reduce congestion and increase driver comfort.
Local Danger Warnings improve driver awareness of incidents and other problems on the road section immediately ahead. Roadside local warning systems have been shown to reduce road accident related injuries and fatalities.
eCall (emergency call)
The in-vehicle eCall is an emergency call generated either manually by the vehicle occupants or automatically via activation of in-vehicle sensors after an accident. When activated, the in-vehicle eCall device will establish an emergency call carrying both voice and data directly to the most appropriate emergency response service, normally a 112 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). The voice call enables the vehicle occupants to communicate with the trained PSAP operator. At the same time, a minimum set of data is sent to the PSAP operator containing information about the incident — including time, precise location, the direction the vehicle was travelling and vehicle identification.
The pan-European eCall service aims to be operative for all vehicles travelling within Europe irrespective of their country of origin.
When fully deployed, an eCall system that provides accurate location data should lead to a higher efficiency of the rescue chain. This reduces the severity and consequences of accidents by providing faster medical care for road safety victims. The use of eCall has been estimated to decrease the number of severe road injuries and fatalities by 5-15%.
Extended environmental information (extended Floating Car Data)
Floating Car Data (FCD) uses systems on individual vehicles to gather data concerning the traffic situation on the entire road network. The in-vehicle equipment records the car location, speed and possibly other information such as acceleration or deceleration, and sends the recorded information anonymously to a central system or to other cars. Extended FCD brings in new types of data such as weather, visibility, and road surface friction. The data can be used as content for different applications and services, such as detection of traffic jams, slippery road sections, direct calculation of travel times and instantaneous traffic reports. Normally, about 3-5% of vehicles on a road section need to be equipped with the system for sufficiently reliable information.
The benefits from extended environmental information will follow from the services utilising the collected data, such as creating better driver awareness of the road network conditions in real time.
Real-time traffic information (RTTI)
The goal of real-time traffic information is to assist drivers to use road networks more effectively by providing up-to-date traffic information, shown in the vehicle through the audio system, control display, digital road maps or last but not least via roadside Variable Message Signs. A service can, for instance, notify drivers of traffic incidents on their route, allowing them to change course — calculated by the system automatically — and possibly avoid delays.
Pre-trip or on-trip real-time traffic information — via in-vehicle receivers — about problems and hazards on the road network can also allow drivers to avoid the situation by changing their route or being better prepared. RTTI can have positive effects on overall congestion, transport network efficiency and driver comfort and safety.
Extended data sources such as Floating Car Data (see above) also improve the quality and variety of RTTI services.
Speed alert systems alert the driver with audio, visual and/or haptic feedback when the speed exceeds a limit set by the driver or the legal fixed speed limit. The speed limit information is either received from transponders in speed limit signs, a video camera in the vehicle or from a digital road map, requiring reliable positioning information.
The reduced speeds due to an activated speed alert system decrease the risk and consequences of road accidents.