Automotive supplier Continental has introduced a concept vehicle in which the output signals of multiple driver assistance systems are bundled in an innovative multi-purpose LED display. With this design the inventors hope to reduce driver distraction.


The statistic of the US Department of Transportation speaks a clear language: Driver distraction is a major cause of accidents. In the United States alone, every day ten persons are killed and more than 1100 receive an injury in accidents caused by distracted drivers. At the Chicago Auto Show, automotive supplier Continental showed a concept car designed to fight distraction and encourage drivers to focus on the traffic.


Modern driver assistance systems such as lane assist, adaptive cruise control (AAC) and collision warning systems help to avoid or defuse dangerous traffic situations. In addition, an infrared camera inside the vehicle detects in which direction the driver is looking. Thus, the concept vehicle "knows" if a driver really pays attention to the traffic in an emerging dangerous situation or if he is distracted. Continental's concept vehicle uses of a LED light strip which surrounds the whole of the vehicle's interior and directs the driver's attention towards a dangerous situation. The signals generated by the LED strip depend on the respective situation. "The Driver Focus Vehicle contains a 'digital co-pilot that continuously scans the surrounding area and issues a warning if the driver appears to ignore a danger", explained Helmut Matschi, general manager of Continental's Interior Division.


In order to detect to where the driver's attention is directed, the vehicle is equipped with an infrared camera in the hub of the steering wheel. This camera monitors the driver's face and detects movements of head and eyes. Thus, the system can determine if the driver is focused on the street or if he is distracted or tired. The LED strip directs the driver's attention towards an imminent danger. It gets its input signals from a number of driver assistance systems such as the AAC or collision warning assist and from the infrared camera. If the system detects that the danger of a collision builds up while the driver is not paying full attention to the road, the LED strip is activated. The LEDs can generate a light trace, a flashing wall or a different light signal. Drivers can pick up on this in their peripheral vision and instinctively focus their attention in the desired direction. Depending on the danger intensity, the LED strip can take on a range of colors from white to amber to red.


img_2013_02_07_driver_focus_04_en.jpg (Image: The LED strip surrounds the entire interior and directs the driver's attention to the critical direction.)


The approach has been developed by Continental as part of the 'Proreta 3' research project along with the Darmstadt Technical University. This project deals with the development of in integral concept for an advanced driver assistance aiming at preventing accidents.


The Continental concept vehicle accesses various advanced assistance systems in series production to take in the vehicle surroundings. In the driver focus vehicle, the lane keeping assist feature specifically warns drivers when they are not paying attention to the traffic situation. It avoids unnecessary warnings, which in turn minimizes any additional driver distractions.

The interaction between the adaptive cruise control feature and the human-machine interface is also expanded in the driver focus vehicle. The adaptive cruise control uses radar information to keep a desired distance from the vehicle in front. If the traffic situation requires particularly hard braking ahead, a warning is displayed in the instrument cluster or head-up display. In the driver focus vehicle, it is now impossible for the driver to miss these warning messages as the LED light strip specifically signals toward the necessary braking manoeuvre.


The connection of driver assistance systems, the capturing of the vehicle's environment and an interior camera will also play a key role on the path toward automated driving recently introduced by Continental. If the vehicle detects that the driver is distracted, it can offer to take over driving for certain traffic situations. According to Continental's roadmap, the driver may let the vehicle drive semi-automated in certain situations, such as in stop/start traffic traveling at 30 kmph on the motorway already in 2016.


Source: ee News