This week BMW and Volkswagen are demonstrating the results of their work on the four-year German government funded Adaptive and Cooperative Technologies for Intelligent Traffic (AKTIV) project. AKTIV includes a group of German automakers, suppliers and communications companies to develop and test systems that will improve traffic flow, safety and fuel efficiency.

The various sub-projects within AKTIV utilize car-to-car, car-to-infrastructure and in-vehicle technologies to help inform the driver of what's transpiring around the vehicle and, in some cases, the vehicle will respond autonomously. Among the technologies in use are cameras, radar and laser sensors all developed to automatically brake the vehicle to prevent collisions, along with messaging systems that can warn of pedestrians or vehicles coming from around a corner.

Volkswagen has also incorporated communications messages about road work and other congestion into the adaptive cruise control (ACC) to help improve the traffic flow by adjusting the control strategy for the ACC. Cars are taken through the narrower section of road at constant speed and a safe distance and then accelerated out on the other side to keep things moving along. BMW has even incorporated the communications systems into motorcycles to allow riders to be more aware. Get the full details in the press release after the break.

  • Research Project Aktiv "System for Active Hazard Braking? (06/2010)
  • Research Project Aktiv "System for Active Hazard Braking? (06/2010)
  • Research Project Aktiv "System for Active Hazard Braking? (06/2010)
  • Research Project Aktiv "System for Active Hazard Braking? (06/2010)
  • Research Project Aktiv "System for Active Hazard Braking? (06/2010)

[Source: Volkswagen, BMW]

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Volkswagen Press Release

AKTIV research project: Intelligent driver assistance systems to make roads even safer
Final project phase: AKTIV partners present solutions for a safer future

Innovation: Volkswagen AG optimises driver assistance systems
Wolfsburg / Mendig, 23 June 2010 - Leading German companies from the automobile industry and the telecommunications and software development sectors are today presenting the results of AKTIV, one of Germany's most important road safety projects, to Parliamentary State Secretary Peter Hintze. The declared aim of this four-year research initiative launched back in September 2006 is to further enhance active road safety, relieve drivers and harmonise traffic flows. Involved in many of the initiative's subprojects, Volkswagen AG is an important partner in this research project sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

"Volkswagen has set the goal of developing innovative driver assistance systems for safer and more sustainable mobility. Volkswagen Group Research thus views AKTIV as one of its flagship projects and is striving to transform the project results into production-ready products as quickly as possible," commented Dr. Jürgen Leohold, Head of Volkswagen Group Research, at today's wrap-up event in Mendig.

Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety ("AKTIV-SFR")

In the "Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety" subproject, Volkswagen is working on a system to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists. In the past decades, a great deal of engineering has gone into making new vehicles safer for pedestrians. Specially designed soft bumpers, which significantly reduce injuries, are one particularly noteworthy passive protection measure.

In addition to these passive measures, Volkswagen has also researched active systems providing extra safety. Using cameras and radar sensors installed on the vehicle, the vehicle constantly monitors its surroundings, paying particular attention to pedestrians and cyclists. The sensors enable unprotected road users and their direction of travel to be detected several meters in front of the vehicle. The installed software then analyses the situation, determining whether it is serious or could even result in a collision.

If a critical traffic situation like this is recognised, the vehicle will brake automatically. The objective is to reduce the vehicle's speed as much as possible to minimise the consequences of the accident or, ideally, to prevent the accident from happening in the first place.

This Volkswagen-developed vehicle goes beyond automatic braking to provide an additional protection system. If the sensor system detects that one of the front corners of the vehicle is about to collide with a pedestrian, a driver steering recommendation will be activated to avoid the collision. In this case, the driver will feel the steering wheel gently turn to swerve around the pedestrian. Although the driver can override the steering recommendation, following the recommendation will ideally prevent the collision.

Integrated Lateral Assistance ("AKTIV-IQF")

"Lane Assist" is an active lane-keeping assistance system now installed in production vehicles which reduces the number of accidents caused by unintended lane departure. If the vehicle appears to stray from its lane, Lane Assist will gently countersteer the vehicle back onto course. However, since the system is an assistance system only, the driver can override the steering recommendation at all times.

As part of the Integrated Lateral Assistance subproject, Volkswagen Group Research has developed an assistance system that continuously supports the driver in terms of longitudinal and lateral vehicle control. In addition to providing the driver with continuous support, the system's particular feature is that longitudinal and lateral vehicle control do not work independently of each other. The shared control concept for this system enables the vehicle's speed to be adapted to the road's path and the driving situation. GPS tracking and digital map information are applied to generate a predictive vehicle-speed strategy that also takes into account tight bends beyond the surround sensors' range.

Always looking ahead and continuously working, this assistance system supports drivers at all speeds when driving on motorways and roads in good condition. Since the lateral assistance system takes into account objects in the vehicle's immediate surroundings, it is also available in traffic congestion or when driving through roadworks.

Driver Awareness and Safety ("AKTIV-FSA")

The technical elements in a driver assistance system – sensors, actuators, algorithms – are one part of development. The other part is the driver interface. Is the driver capable of understanding and anticipating intervention by the system? Will the driver lose control of the vehicle if the system does not react correctly?

Volkswagen Group Research tackled these questions in the Driver Awareness and Safety subproject. Based on the Integrated Lateral Assistance system described above, it was analysed how the development of safety-relevant driver assistance systems can be systematically supported. Research focused on the system's user-friendliness and controllability as well as potential long-term changes in driver behaviour. Relevant scenarios and their influencing factors were compiled and analysed in order to determine which systems – for example, driving simulator, vehicle in the loop, or real vehicle – would be most suitable for the testing phase. When analysing the potential of the new assistance systems with regard to gains in safety, it is vital to take a comprehensive view and make sure that the results can be applied to real traffic situations. An empirical study investigating Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) showed that driver assistance systems provide increased convenience and safety even after they have been used for a long period of time.

Situation-Responsive Driving ("AKTIV-STAF")
The Volkswagen Roadworks Pilot – a driver assistance system to avoid traffic congestion

More than 30% of all congestion on the German Autobahn is caused by roadworks. However, research shows that driving behaviour that keeps traffic flowing as smoothly as possible can prevent congestion; for example, this would mean quickly driving through narrow sections of road. Road capacity could generally be increased by about three percent if ten percent of drivers would exhibit a driving style that allows traffic to flow. This in turn would reduce waiting time, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Volkswagen's Roadworks Pilot is a traffic assistance and information system. It expands the ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) system currently available for production vehicles to include an additional function from the area of Traffic Management. In order to promote smooth traffic flow through roadworks, up-to-date information about the route and an appropriate driving strategy are required. The driver is shown information pertaining to the roadworks ahead in a "traffic horizon", which contains a map preview with traffic information. In order to receive up-to-date traffic information for the area around the roadworks, onboard systems track the vehicle's route. Using vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, this information is transmitted to communication installations known as roadside units, which are set up at various points along the road and collect data from passing vehicles. Roadside units analyse vehicle data using an algorithm developed by Volkswagen in order to generate information such as the number of road lanes, their paths, and the precise traffic situation. This information is then transmitted to vehicles following behind in the form of a dynamic local map. At the same time, the "Roadworks Pilot" implements the driving strategy in the vehicle, providing driving recommendations or automatically controlling distance and speed. What makes this system innovative is the following: Depending on the traffic situation, the vehicle approaches potential traffic congestion with the appropriate caution. It then passes through the narrowed section of road at constant speed, without changing lanes and at a safe distance from the vehicle ahead to prevent waves of congestion from forming. Finally, the vehicle quickly accelerates back to normal speed at the end of the roadworks. This enables any congestion present to clear up better.

Volkswagen thus shows that driver assistance systems cannot only enhance safety and convenience, but also help prevent congestion and reduce CO2 emissions.

General details on the AKTIV research project

AKTIV is the acronym used for the research initiative "Adaptive and cooperative technologies for intelligent transport". AKTIV has an overall budget of €60 million, the majority of which is provided by the research partners. The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is contributing €25 million, while the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is providing €2.1 million. The research initiative itself is divided into two main projects in which Volkswagen is heavily involved: "Assistance Systems / Active Safety" ("AS") and "Traffic Management" ("VM"). In addition to these main areas, the initiative also includes the project "Cooperative Cars" ("CoCar").

With an investment volume of €37.5 million, "AS" is the largest project within this research initiative. Besides "Integrated Lateral Assistance" ("IQF"), this project also investigates the four topics of "Active Hazard Braking" ("AGB"), "Intersection Assistance" ("KAS"), "Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety" ("SFR") and "Driver Awareness and Safety" ("FSA").

About €18 million are available in the "Traffic Management" project. In addition to other topics, Situation-Responsive Driving ("STAF") is the focus of intensive research in this project.

The partners of AKTIV are as follows: Adam Opel GmbH, AUDI AG, AZT Automotive GmbH, BMW Group, Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt), Continental, Daimler AG, Ericsson, Ford Forschungszentrum Aachen GmbH, Hessian Road and Traffic Authority (HLSV), Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft des Saarlandes - University of Applied Sciences, IBEO, ifak e.V. Magdeburg, MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG, PTV AG, Robert Bosch GmbH, Siemens AG, Technische Universität Braunschweig (Braunschweig University of Technology), Technische Universität München (University of Technology, Munich), Tele Atlas Deutschland GmbH, Transver GmbH, Universität Kassel (University of Kassel), Vodafone Group R&D Germany and Volkswagen AG. Many university and research institutes as well as small and medium-sized businesses have also been subcontracted to work on the projects.

BMW Press Release

Getting Aktiv for future mobility.In the Aktiv development project, researchers from the BMW Group have come up with systems for safe and free-flowing road traffic.

* 23.06.2010

Munich . Mobility is the hallmark of a modern society and economic prosperity. For the future viability of unrestricted mobility, the traffic system must be equal to the high demands placed on it. Every traveller must be able to make each journey in the safest, most efficient and most comfortable way possible. In order to achieve this objective, 28 partners from the automotive industry – ranging from electronics, telecommunications and software companies to research institutes and highways and transport authorities – joined forces in the German research initiative known as Aktiv. At the closing session in Mendig today, the results of the research project were presented.

Aktiv stands for "Adaptive und Kooperative Technologien für den Intelligenten Verkehr" (Adaptive and Cooperative Technologies for Intelligent Traffic). With the aim of making traffic of the future safer and smoother-flowing, the partners involved came up with 15 subprojects to develop new driver assistance systems as well as solutions for efficient traffic management and appropriate Car2x communications. With the Active Safety project, the experts from BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH have made an important contribution to improving road traffic safety. In addition, specialists from the BMW Group brought to the Traffic Management project their insights about smooth traffic flow and developed innovative navigation functions. Also, in dialogue with industry specialists, they established the basis for acceptance and implementation of the road traffic technologies and applications.

Innovative driver assistance systems for active safety.

The best protection against accidents which a car designer can give the driver on the road is the active safety of his vehicle. "From official statistics and from our own analyses of accident databases in the project, we know that many accidents are attributable to a driver reacting inadequately, too late or not at all," says Dr Peter Zahn, Project Manager with BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH in the Aktiv research initiative. "Every tenth of a second's reaction time gained makes a crucial contribution to accident avoidance if a vehicle thinks for itself with lightning speed in critical situations and can itself react during a momentary lapse of attention on the part of the driver," Zahn elaborates. The fundamental challenge, therefore, is to intervene as soon as an unexpected accident threatens in order to safeguard the driver, without at the same time "nannying" him in his attentive, independent conduct at the wheel.

That is why, in the Active Safety project, the specialists from BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH have developed an assistance system called Active Hazard Braking. This function goes beyond limiting the consequences of a collision, which existing emergency braking systems are chiefly designed to do; its aim is, as far as possible, to eliminate nose-to-tail impacts altogether. To achieve this, laser scanners on the vehicle monitor the road situation ahead and to the side, while radar sensors provide surveillance of the area to the rear. In addition, the driver's behaviour in a particular situation is evaluated. "If the sensors recognise the threat of a collision, the driver is appropriately alerted to the situation and, if necessary, the brakes are applied fully to avoid an accident," explains Philipp Reinisch of BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH, whose dissertation deals with Active Hazard Braking.

Another important subject for the BMW Group's research subsidiary is Car2x communications, the name given to the exchange of data between one vehicle and another or between a vehicle and the traffic infrastructure. The focus here extends beyond cars, and within the framework of BMW Motorrad's ConnectedRide strategy also brings motorcycles into the communication network. The data from other road users captured via the Car2x communication system provides a basis for a driver assistance system developed in the Intersection Assistance subproject. "If this assistance system discovers that the motorist giving way is probably misjudging his approach, the system warns him of a potential collision through a visual and audible signal. During the response time, the system also activates approximately 30% of the maximum braking force for one second – a palpable indication to the driver to apply the brakes himself. In parallel with this, a motorcycle with right of way deliberately attracts attention to itself: full beam headlights, additional LED side warning lights and the hazard lights are activated to broaden its silhouette. In the case of acute danger of collision the motorcycle's horn also sounds. Its handling is not affected by this." This vivid description is provided by Dr Felix Klanner, who developed the "Intersection Assistance" system at BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH.

Other subprojects within the Active Safety project were the development of Integrated Lateral Assistance, Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety and the crossover project Driver Awareness and Safety.

Intelligent traffic management for free-flowing traffic.

Under the label Adaptive Navigation, the BMW Group demonstrates a development aimed at bringing together different sources of information. Today, the market already has various providers of traffic information who are opening up ever-new sources of traffic data. Examples of these are loop data, Floating Car Data, Extended Floating Car Data, mobile phone data and historic traffic load curves. "However, we are only at the start of this journey and the future will bring us a wealth of new information sources. In particular, aggregators like Google and the virtual communities of Facebook, Twitter or MySpace will exploit their strengths to flood the market with information offers, some of them free of charge. But in all of this, one thing will tend to be generally overlooked: the customer's desire for reliable, high-grade information," explains BMW's Dr Irina Matschke. "The challenge lies in creating a unique body of high-grade information from diverse data sources, each with a small but known value," Matschke goes on to say. Hence, in the Aktiv project, the BMW Group has developed a fusion logic which combines the various information sources and allows them to be used by the customer through routing. In this way, as soon as the customer starts his journey, he is presented with a precise picture of what he can expect while driving and when he will reach his destination under typical conditions, but also in the best or least favourable circumstances.

Cooperative Cars provides a mobile phone-based exchange of traffic data.

In the Cooperative Cars project, specialists have been investigating the extent to which mobile phone technologies such as UMTS are suitable for the targeted real-time exchange of data between traffic management and driver assistance systems. BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH is researching the performance of these mobile phone technologies in a test vehicle as well as in simulation, and assessing how far they can be used in cooperative assistance functions such as Intersection Assistance.

The following companies and organisations played an active part in the Aktivresearchinitiative: Allianz, Audi, BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH, BMW Group, Bosch, Germany's Federal Highway Research Institute, Continental, DaimlerChrysler, DDG, Ericsson Eurolab R&D Germany, Ford, the Hessen State Traffic Centre, HTW Saarland, IBEO, IFAK Magdeburg, MAN Commercial Vehicles, Opel, PTV, Siemens, Munich Technical University, Teleatlas, Transver, Hanover University, Kassel University, Vodafone Group R&D Germany and Volkswagen. In addition, numerous university and other research institutes, as well as small and medium-sized companies, collaborated on the project as subcontractors.

The BMW Group

The BMW Group is one of the most successful manufacturers of automobiles and motorcycles in the world with its BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands. As a global company, the BMW Group operates 24 production facilities in 13 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

The BMW Group achieved a global sales volume of approximately 1.29 million automobiles and over 87,000 motorcycles for the 2009 financial year. The pre-tax profit for 2009 was euro 413 million, revenues totalled euro 50.68 billion. At 31 December 2009, the company employed a global workforce of approximately 96,000 associates.

The success of the BMW Group has always been built on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy. As a result of its efforts, the BMW Group has been ranked industry leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the last five years.

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