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Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

Increasing Situational Awareness to Decrease Danger


Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are technologies that provide a driver with essential information, automate difficult or repetitive tasks, and lead to an overall increase in car safety for everyone. Some of these technologies have been around for a long time, and they have already proven to result in an improved driving experience and better overall road safety. GPS navigation, for example, has become increasingly common in OEM infotainment systems since first being introduced in the 1990s.

However, a lot of ADAS are right on the cutting edge of emerging automotive technologies. Some of these systems will have the staying power to stick around, and you can expect to see at least a few of them in your next car. Others may fizzle and disappear or be replaced by better implementations of the same basic idea. Since ADAS rely on electronics and often include firmware elements, the development of these cutting edge systems is governed by international safety standards like IEC-61508 and ISO-26262.

The following ADAS are all available in production models from a variety of OEMS:

1. Adaptive cruise control

adaptive cruise control
Image courtesy of Radcliffe Dacanay, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)
This advanced driver assistance technology is especially useful on the highway, where drivers otherwise have to constantly monitor their cruise control systems for safety reasons. With advanced cruise control, a vehicle will automatically slow down or speed up in response to the actions of the car or truck in front of it. Most of these systems automatically shut off below a certain speed threshold, but others can even be used in stop and go traffic.

2. Adaptive light control

adaptive headlights
Image courtesy of Brett Levin, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)
Adaptive light control systems are designed to help drivers see better and further in the darkness. This advanced driver assistance technology allows the headlights to swivel and rotate to better illuminate the roadway through corners and in other circumstances.

3. Automatic braking

automatic braking
Image courtesy of Bryn Pinzgauer, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)
Automatic braking is a precrash technology that is designed to reduce the severity of high speed collisions in the event of a lapse of driver attention. While some automatic braking systems can actually prevent collisions, they’re typically meant to slow the vehicle to the point where less damage is caused and fatalities are unlikely.

4. Automatic parking

parallel parking sans automatic parking technology
Image courtesy of thienzieyung, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)
Automatic parking systems vary from one OEM to another, but most of them are designed to help a driver parallel park. Some of these systems can actually perform the entire job automatically, and others simply provide advice so that the driver knows when to turn the steering wheel and when to stop.

5. Blind spot detection

blind spot detection
Image courtesy of bluematrix, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)
Blind spot detection systems use a variety of sensors to provide a driver with vital information that would be difficult or impossible to come by through any other means. Some of these systems will sound an alarm if they sense the presence of an object within a blind spot, and other include cameras that can transmit an image to the head unit or another monitor.

6. Collision avoidance systems

collision avoidance
Image courtesy of Jeremy Noble, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)
Collision avoidance systems use a variety of sensors to determine whether a vehicle is in danger of colliding with another object. These systems can typically sense the proximity of other vehicles, pedestrians, animals, and various roadway obstructions. When the vehicle is in danger of colliding with another object, the collision avoidance system will warn the driver. Some of these systems can also take other preventive actions, such as precharging the brakes or apply tension to the seat belts.

7. Driver drowsiness detection

driver alertness
Image courtesy of Alan Cleaver, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)
Driver drowsiness or awareness detection systems use a number of different means to determine if a driver’s attention is starting to wander. Some of these systems look for the driver’s head to nod in a telltale motion that indicates sleepiness, and others use technology similar to lane detection warning systems.

8. GPS navigation

GPS with traffic
Image courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)
GPS navigation systems effectively replace bulky, cumbersome paper maps. These devices are often capable of providing vocal directions as well, which saves the driver from having to actually look at the screen. Some GPS navigation systems also provide live traffic data, which drivers previously had to obtain by listening to news radio stations.

9. Hill descent control

hill descent control
Image courtesy of Studio TDES, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)
Hill descent control is an advanced driver assistance technology that makes it easier to descend steep inclines. These systems typically work by activating the brakes to automatically slow the vehicle, which works through the same basic mechanism that allows ABS, TCS, and other technologies to function. Some hill descent control systems allow the speed to be modified via the cruise control system, and they can typically be overridden by pressing either the brake or the accelerator.

10. Intelligent speed adaptation

intelligent speed adaptation
Image courtesy of John S. Quarterman, via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)
This advanced driver assistance system depends on a variety of information to help a driver maintain a legal speed. Since these systems monitor the current speed and compare it with the local speed limit, they only function in certain areas.
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