BMW is testing a new safety feature called the Left Turn Assistant. The name explains it all, but you will find more details after the jump.
Here’s how it works in brief: The car is fitted with cameras and laser sensors that can read objects ahead of the car up to a distance of 100 meters. So, when the car senses that the driver is about to enter the left-turn lane it engages – up to speed of 10 km/h – and looks ahead to see if any vehicle is approaching in the opposite direction. If so, and if the driver keeps going, this system automatically apply brakes and emits a warning sound and showsrelevant warning symbols in the instrument cluster and Head-Up Display.
It helps if the driver has not very good sight, or is a bit thick! More technical details in the press release below:
The left turn assistant is designed to work at speeds of up to 10 km/h. The automated braking function does not therefore trigger dramatic deceleration from high speed, but instead should be viewed as a system that prevents the car from moving off or continuing along its path. As soon as the driver engages the brakes himself, the braking input triggered by the left turn assistant is disengaged and the car is “released” again to continue normal driving. To maximise safety the driver can always override the left turn assistant. For example, if the driver needs to guide the car to the side of an intersection to clear the way for an emergency vehicle, he can do so at any time with a short dab of the accelerator.
Car-to-x communication further improves safety.The possibilities of vehicle-to-vehicle communication enhance the functionality of the left turn assistant. In addition to the laser scanners and camera, the BMW 5 Series Saloon can also be fitted with a WLAN car-to-x communication unit. This device not only increases the range of the vehicle recognition function to 250 metres, it also allows the system to detect the presence of concealed road users who also have the technology on board.
A second testing scenario with the left turn assistant shows the additional potential of equipping vehicles with this kind of interface. Here, the research car approaches a motorcycle fitted with car-to-x communication technology.
The BMW Motorrad test bike is currently a BMW R 1200 GS. Again, the data provided by camera-aided image recognition and laser scanners allows the system to register the lane markings, the left-turn arrow and the distance to the centre line and stop lines (if these are present). When the driver activates one of the turn signal indicators, the car detects that the driver wants to turn off to the left and the assistance system is activated. “The car and the motorcycle communicate with one another via the car-to-x interfaces as the motorcycle approaches. The car and motorcycle exchange information on the type of vehicle, its position and speed, as well as dynamic data such as its current steering angle and whether the indicators are activated,” explains Udo Rietschel, development engineer in the BMW Group Research and Technology’s left turn assistant project. The motorcycle then uses this data to detect that the car driver wants to turn off to the left. On the basis of the data exchanged between the car and motorcycle an algorithm then calculates their trajectories and identifies whether a collision is likely. In critical situations the motorcycle increases its conspicuity to warn the car driver. The level of collision risk is assessed and various measures taken accordingly; the motorcycle’s headlight is adjusted gradually, its strength increased and the flashlights and LEDs positioned on the sides of the bike and on its mirrors are activated to create a broader silhouette. If there is an acute risk of collision, the motorcycle’s horn also sounds. If the car continues into the intersection regardless, the left turn assistant brakes the car automatically to a standstill. Here again, a warning sound and relevant warnings in the instrument cluster and Head-Up Display indicate to the driver during and after the full braking manoeuvre why the car has been braked.
Improved safety at intersections – INTERSAFE 2.Since 2008 a consortium of 11 European carmakers, suppliers and research institutes – including BMW Group Research and Technology, NEC Europe Ltd. Network Laboratories, SWARCO TRAFFIC SYSTEMS GMBH, Volvo Technology (truck division) and Volkswagen AG – have been working together on a research project to develop interactive driver assistance systems which further improve safety at road junctions. INTERSAFE 2 builds on the results of the PReVENT (INTERSAFE) project, the consortium partners continuing the development of the intelligent systems towards the goal of everyday usability. Around ?3.8 million of the total ?6.5 million budget for the project was provided by the EU.
The premiere of the left turn assistant will take place as part of the INTERSAFE 2 Final Event on 17 and 18 May at a closed-off intersection in Wolfsburg. The premiere will therefore be held in a real-life environment, rather than under test conditions, as is usually the case.