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For Safer Roads, It Takes a Mixture of ADAS Features

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Oct. 22, 2020—Another webinar from Partners for Automated Vehicle Education took place on Oct. 7, this time highlighting the crucial role that ADAS functions play in road safety.

In addition, the panelists offered insight to how various sensor types and ADAS features will blend to form the end goal of safer vehicle transportation. And the tech that ends up making it happen will be serviced and repaired in shops like yours.

 

Wanted: Safer Roads

While the industry is caught up in a rapid rise of ADAS and software-based auto parts, it’s important to keep the larger goal in view. Making roads safer is more important than ever, and that doesn’t just mean among drivers.

“We recently reached 30 year highs in both pedestrian and bicyclist deaths,” said Ken McLeod, policy director for the League of American Bicyclists in the webinar.

Pedestrian deaths in 2019 reached levels not seen since 1988. Around 6,500 pedestrians were killed on or near roadways.

And many of those incidents happen at night, said Mike Walters, who is the VP of product management components business and FLIR Systems, which develops infrared camera technology.

They also happen on rural roads, which lack wide shoulders, have fewer lights and are higher-speed roadways.

“It doesnt have a sidewalk,” said Rini Sherony, senior principal engineer for the Collaborative Safety Research Center at Toyota. “It didn’t have a large side divider where people would have some space between the car and the pedestrian.”

All of those factors go into the engineering and development of ADAS systems, Sherony said, in order to help vehicles and drivers make up for those environmental deficiencies.

 

Mixing Tech

Pedestrian and cyclist detection is a growing part of the suite of ADAS features coming from OEMs. Sherony said that Toyota has developed some of these features in response to demands in European markets, but they will be available in North American vehicles as well.

“As these systems penetrate more heavily, then we are going to see a lot more benefit,” she said.

Walters said that thermal cameras are crucial to a mix of technologies that can effectively detect pedestrians in any conditions, particularly when the driver might have a hard time seeing.

“This ability to see pedestrians at night or in bad weather or in different lighting conditions…when we’re able to accurately perceive the environment in those situations, we’re able to bring a new sensor stream of information to the vehicles and allow the vehicle to perform better in these situations,” he said.

 

When the thermal camera works in concert with a visible light camera and radar, the systems can account for more driver error.

Then bring in more features, like automatic emergency braking or tech that can reduce a vehicle’s speed before impact. Walters pointed to one BMW feature that directs headlights at an object that the radar picks up, thus helping the driver catch a pedestrian or animal in the roadway. All of these things working together make for a safer road environment.

For McLeod, whose organization lobbies for safer routes for cyclists, the real benefit will be seen when the maximum number of drivers have these systems available to them.

“Make sure that they're at the lowest trim levels and not just something marketed to people who have the means to get them,” he said.

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