On recent new vehicle models, there are now driving aids that have become almost essential but not yet mandatory. These aids nevertheless contribute to improving the active and passive safety of the occupants of a vehicle and that of other road users.
It’s true of theactive blind spot warning and overtaking prevention (EKLA). This device combines data from the front camera and side radars, which prevents slipping and automatically puts the car back in its lane.
For his part, the reverse automatic emergency braking (Rear-AEB) remains complementary to the already known automatic emergency braking (AEB). If the ultrasonic sensors detect a potential obstacle (pedestrian, cyclist, pole, etc.), the system then warns the driver visually and audibly, before initiating a two-second emergency brake to avoid the collision, without intervention of the driver. This system is activated when reversing between 3 and 10 km/h. Recall that theAEB is based on sensors of different technologies (radar, camera or lidar) which can detect critical situations ahead.
The sensors at work
These sensors can also be used for the system of parking exit prevention when reversing (Rear CTA). This equipment detects vehicles moving at more than 4 km/h when the driver performs this manoeuvre. If the rear ultrasonic radars spot a vehicle, an audible and visual alert indicates to stop the maneuver and can also stop the car.
In addition, the safe exit for occupants (OSE) alerts the driver opening his door of the approach of another vehicle or a two-wheeler. This visual and audible warning system prevents, among other things, knocking over or hitting cyclists, who are very affected by this type of accident in the city.
Let’s add to this list induced safety equipment that we do not spontaneously think of and are often optional, such as intelligent headlight lighting with technology Adaptive LEDs. This technology takes into account the inclination of the steering wheel, the speed of the car, traffic and weather conditions by optimizing visibility, especially when cornering and without dazzling other road users. Icing on the cake, technology Matrix LED Visionalso called Matrix Beam or ADB, allows you to drive on high beam at all times, with optimal lighting depending on the traffic and the profile of the road thanks to adaptive anti-dazzle light-emitting diodes.
More sophisticated aids
These passive and active safety systems are further strengthened and potentially more effective thanks to artificial intelligence or, at the very least, thanks to increased computing power and predictive or even autonomous driving software.
It’s true of the contextual autonomous driving which is becoming popular from the top of the range towards more affordable segments, such as on the Renault Austral, a compact SUV marketed in the summer of 2022. Active Driver Assist (ADA) thus combines the driving assistant on the motorway and management traffic with level 2 autonomous driving “delegation”, which broadens its scope beyond just “well-marked” expressways. This contextual autonomous driving combines adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go (total automatic stop and restart), the refocusing function in the lane, geolocation data and specific mapping so that the car adapts in real time to the course of the road, whatever it is.
Another ADAS, the adaptive cruise control (ACC) simultaneously exploits the recognition of speed limit signs by the front camera with data from the navigation system. Objective: establish the current speed limit as precisely as possible. We have therefore gone beyond the simple reading of traffic signs: the vehicle automatically adapts to the detected speed, while maintaining a minimum safety distance from the vehicle in front. In the event of a stop in a traffic jam, thanks to the Stop & Go function, the car restarts automatically over an extended period of time. This can reach half a minute of stoppage with the engine off, against less than five seconds in general, after which the driver is obliged to regain control.
From automatic mode…
For its part, theActive Driver Assist also uses geolocation data and specific mapping that includes roundabouts and sharp bends. In addition to signaling these potential dangers on the dashboard, the vehicle can decelerate automatically when approaching a roundabout, then accelerate to the maximum authorized speed once it has been passed. All this without driver intervention and with a secondary but important induced advantage: predictive driving that is more economical because it is more anticipatory.
You have to add the lane centering (LC), also called ELK or LKA (lane keeping) in Euro NCAP terminology. This device acts automatically on the steering wheel and now works in the absence of one of the two side markings, such as on the side of departmental roads.
Finally, the panel recognition with overspeed alert (OSP) can also be used alone, without the addition of adaptive cruise control (ACC). The system more simply displays the maximum authorized speed on the dashboard and/or on the navigation screen. And if the vehicle’s speed is higher than the recognized speed, a visual alert is displayed in front of the driver’s eyes.
In level 3 autonomous driving, we must finally mention the pre-equipment which mainly concerns the German top of the range, like the Mercedes EQS or BMW iX and Tesla. These systems will be put into operation in OTA mode (over the air) via remote transmission, as and when the legislative validation of each State for certain sections of determined tracks. In Germany, for example, 13,191 km of motorway sections will be approved in June 2022 for level 3 driving delegation up to 60 km/h, but only in the event of traffic jams.
For level 3 autonomous driving, this technological package requires an additional camera on the rear window, and sound sensors to detect and identify priority vehicles such as firefighters or ambulances. But it also uses conceptual artificial intelligence to analyze and manage all events that occur in real time and require autonomous action.
… to autonomous driving
In general, the driver must always remain ready to resume manual driving if the system so requires or recognizes that the conditions for proper use are no longer met. This is why it is not possible to sleep, look back for a long time or even leave the driver’s seat. In order to guarantee the driver’s ability to regain control, the cameras in the driver screen observe the movements of his head and eyelids.
Theoretically, this level 3 autonomous driving up to 60 km/h could reduce accidents and costly small shocks in traffic jams. But it should also legally release the responsibility of the driver, a legal condition sine qua non of its use in the professional context. A point under arbitration in the European Union, France having to publish for September 2022 the decree which will authorize level 3 autonomous driving on the portions and zones concerned (OJ of July 7, 2021).