Another route for avoiding crashes

  • 08-Sep-2009 02:16 EDT
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Mapping data are used like another sensor input for safety systems, even including elevation data provided by Intermap Technologies.

Engineers are leaving no path unexplored as they devise systems that prevent crashes. Many are beginning to tap into navigation and GPS data, using the information to augment radar and cameras.

Locational data can provide information about the roadways that can be used to help sensors determine how to respond. That is especially helpful when sharp curves can confuse radar or even cameras.

“If you’re going 70 mph and there’s a concrete barrier straight ahead, radar won’t know there’s a curve in the road. But map data knows, so there’s no false alarm,” said Tim Tiernan, Manager of Obstacle Detection Systems at Visteon. “High-definition maps and GPS are extremely useful when you’re trying to figure out what’s on the road.”

Pulling in navigation data is yet another step in data sharing, making all data that are available on vehicle networks available to any system. “We’re starting to use navigation; once data’s there, why not use it?” said Doug Patton, Senior Vice President for Engineering at Denso International America. “If you’re going into a turn, the car can decide not to go any faster.”

In safety systems that may decide to brake in just milliseconds, it’s important to know exactly where the car is in relation to obstacles. Some developers are pulling in dead-reckoning data from sensors that help ensure that a lost GPS signal does not impact accuracy.

“We’re starting to see more complex systems bring in data from maps, accelerometers, and gyros,” said Thomas Boehm, Chassis Safety Segment Manager for Freescale Semiconductors.

Though map data can be extremely helpful, design teams acknowledge that they must also work around its drawbacks. No maps cover every road, and roads can change over time, with map updates sometimes lagging construction by a fair amount of time.

Map makers and other data providers are striving to improve their accuracy. That drive for more precise data is extending to elevation data. Intermap Technologies is currently doing elevation maps of the entire U.S. and Europe, and both navigation and safety engineers are figuring out how to incorporate that into the inputs for their systems.

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