Accident-prevention systems trialled at German intersection

A range of accident-prevention technologies has been successfully demonstrated at a cordoned-off public road intersection in Wolfsburg, Germany.

It is the culmination of an EU-funded project, Intersafe-2, which has gathered 11 partners from industry and research to address the problem of collisions at intersections — which account for 43 per cent of all traffic accident-related injuries in Europe.

Intersafe-2 comprises a system of co-operative sensors at intersections and on board vehicles, which together build up a ’snapshot’ of activity at the intersection that can be communicated to vehicles and, ultimately, their drivers.

The recent test used a BMW passenger car, a Volkswagen passenger car and a Volvo truck, all equipped with different combinations of sensors, including stereo cameras, lasers, radar, WLAN and GPS.

‘With these kind of projects, every partner wants to try their own technology and see how it works,’ said Dr Mario Dalla Fontana, an engineer at TRW Conekt, one of the project partners. ’But also, in certain cases, it is useful to have combinations of sensors where the information is fused together so you get the best picture,’ he added.

The Wolfsburg demonstration played out various common scenarios such as a vehicle turning left with an oncoming stream of traffic (right turn for the UK). Here, a left-turning BMW test vehicle was coupled with an oncoming motorcycle hidden by another vehicle. The car and motorcycle were essentially able to communicate their position and intentions to each other via the intersection hub, while the BMW was also equipped with a laser sensor to actively scan for oncoming vehicles ahead.

Driver feedback comprises a head-up display of warning signals — but the system goes a step further than previous offerings by engaging the brakes if the driver appears to be continuing in a dangerous path.

While acknowledging the high cost associated with wide-scale uptake of such a system, Dalla Fontana said the team hopes to implement aspects of the project at intersection black spots.

‘The societal cost of an accident is huge — so although it may appear that an equipped infrastructure costs a lot of money, it will pay back quite quickly on the worst intersections,’ he said.

Indeed, calculations show that installing the system in the top one to 10 per cent of intersection black spots could lead to a 60–90 per cent reduction in overall intersection collisions.

The Intersafe-2 partners are the BMW Group, the Cluj-Napoca Technical University, IKA, Inria, NEC, SICK (project co-ordination), Swarco, TRW Conekt, Volkswagen AG, Volvo AG, VIT and VTT.