Automatic crash avoidance and braking systems have become central to automotive safety. Now Honda has introduced a new dimension: an intelligent cruise control that can anticipate by up to five seconds and react to the likelihood of a vehicle ahead cutting-in and endangering another.
“On a road with at least two lanes running in the same direction, the system, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (i-ACC), detects a vehicle traveling in the adjacent slower lane that intends to cut in ahead of you, and adjusts the speed of your vehicle in advance,” explained Robert Kastner, Section Leader, Functions Technology, Honda Europe, during the launch of the new-generation UK-built Honda CR-V.
The company is claiming the system as a “world first.” Developed at Honda’s Research Institute Europe in Offenbach Main near Frankfurt, and in Honda facilities in Japan, i-ACC will debut in Europe on the Executive version of the CR-V.
“The shortcomings of current ACC systems are most apparent in the high diversity of driving speeds and high traffic density in Europe, so i-ACC was developed for Europe first,” said Kastner.
Both radar and camera based, the system uses an algorithm as a predictive tool to anticipate the possibility of vehicles in neighboring lanes cutting in, its assessment based on evaluation of information regarding the behavior of multiple vehicles ahead.
“The radar sensor is behind the front grille, and the camera in front of the rearview mirror; i-ACC is part of the Honda Sensing System, but was an individual research and development project,” stated Kastner. “The radar sensor detects vehicles ahead, including those in the adjacent lane, and the camera detects lane markings. The system improves the ACC’s following/tracking property; it adjusts your vehicle speed in advance by predicting a situation where another vehicle running in the adjacent slower lane is catching up with one ahead traveling even slower and anticipates that it will change lanes to cut-in ahead of you.”
At this point, the i-ACC vehicle’s speed decays “a little.” Speed then decreases further as necessary, and a warning icon appears on the CRV’s Multi Information Display to indicate system activation.
The i-ACC operates at vehicle speeds in excess of 80 km/h (50 mph). In some poor weather conditions or when lane markings are absent, i-ACC defaults to regular ACC.
Kastner said that ACC, including i-ACC, can detect any type of vehicle but “may not work as effectively” when the vehicle ahead is a motorcycle, pedal bicycle, mobility scooter, or other small vehicle.
Typical ACC systems keep a pre-selected longitudinal velocity that is only reduced to maintain a safe distance to the car ahead. In the event of a cut-in the result is then hard braking.
Because the i-ACC is capable of achieving up to a five-second prediction phase, any required braking is far more progressive and may begin before the driver is aware of an incipient cut-in maneuver. Braking input will then increase as necessary.
Dr. Jens Schmuedderich, responsible for i-ACC research in Europe, regards the new system as a significant safety breakthrough: “It is a considerable further step towards a new generation of driver-assistance systems that anticipate the behavior of other traffic participants.”