ZF to help address distracted and potential wrong-way drivers

  • “Driver Distraction Assist” can help prevent accidents caused by distractions at the wheel
  • “Wrong-way Inhibit” is designed to actively guard against driving in the wrong direction
  • Vision Zero Vehicle is a milestone on the way to the vision of zero accidents and zero local emissions

The concept vehicle features intelligent mechanical systems capable of helping to prevent many accidents. “Driver Distraction Assist” has the capability to recognize driver distraction – today the number-two cause of accidents after excess speed – and if necessary help steer the vehicle safely until the danger is over. “Wrong-way Inhibit” is a ZF solution with the potential to help actively prevent wrong-way driving and its frequently fatal consequences.

Keeps an eye on the driver

Research indicates that distracted driving continues to be an issue on the road. According to a road safety study by Allianz Zentrum für Technik, around one in 10 road fatalities today is due to distraction. In 2016, distraction caused the loss of 350 lives in Germany – 94 more than drunk driving. Figures from the U.S. reveal that in 2015 alone, wandering attention caused 3,477 deaths. A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute carried out the previous year found that people behind the wheel are distracted more than half of the time (52 percent). They spend more than 6.4 percent of the time using their cell phones, with texting increasing the risk of accidents by a factor of 10.

“Driver Distraction Assist can help recognize lack of attention, warn the driver and, if necessary, take control until a potential danger has passed,” explains Dr. Harald Naunheimer, head of Research and Development at ZF.

The technology uses a laser-based time-of-flight interior camera with learning capability. The camera monitors the position of the driver’s head in 3D. Unlike digital video systems, it can be effective even in poor lighting. The system is designed to immediately register when the driver looks away from the road. In case of danger, it alerts the driver with an optical warning on the central display, an acoustic signal and active tightening of the seat belt. Simultaneously, the assistant is capable of taking over steering, also staying on track in curves. If the driver still does not react, the system can steadily reduce the drive torque. Finally, if the driver continues to ignore all warnings, the assistant can cut the throttle response and attempt to stop the car in a safe spot.

Actively prevents wrong-way driving

The ZF  Wrong-way Inhibit is designed to actively safeguard against driving the wrong way, the system reacts as soon as there is an indication that the driver is about to enter a road in the wrong direction – whether due to distraction, poor visibility or disorientation. For example, if the driver heads for a freeway exit instead of an entry road, the system can first warn with an acoustic signal, seatbelt vibration and an optical signal on the dashboard display. Additionally, a significantly higher steering wheel resistance reinforces the message to the driver that he is about to make a wrong turn. If the driver still attempts to go in the wrong direction, the system can keep the car on the outside edge of the lane, brake initially to walking speed and then to a stop. Furthermore, the high beam headlights and the hazard warning lights can activate to warn oncoming traffic. The system only allows the driver to drive out of the danger zone along the edge of the road if there is space or if he shifts into reverse.

The Vision Zero Vehicle uses multiple approaches to help detect which road and which direction is right or wrong, by high-accuracy maps that are constantly updated via the cloud as well as traffic signs and road markings that are recognized and interpreted using a front camera system.

Source: ZF