Continental has demonstrated a driver assistance system which detects dangerous overtaking maneuvers at an early stage and so helps to avoid accidents; the system was developed together with Darmstadt Technical University as part of the second interdisciplinary PRORETA collaborative research project.
(At present, two out of three fatal traffic accidents in Germany occur on country roads, and overtaking maneuvers are responsible for many of these accidents, resulting in serious injuries or fatalities.)
The prototype of this overtaking assistance system combines radar and video environmental sensors with braking intervention. Combining the video and radar data creates an electronic image of the area around the vehicle and thus provides the basis for a situation analysis.
The system uses the sensor and vehicle dynamics data to constantly calculate the position of its own vehicle and the positions of the vehicle in front and of any oncoming vehicle and decides whether there is sufficient room for a successful overtaking maneuver.
If, when pulling out to overtake, the system reckons that either the oncoming vehicle or the vehicle being overtaken might be at risk, it warns the driver with increasing urgency to abort the overtaking maneuver. In the PRORETA demonstration vehicle, the warnings are displayed visually, issued acoustically as a spoken warning and positively felt by a sensory response from a vibrating accelerator pedal.
If these produce no effect, the system intervenes, electronically activating the braking system and slowing the vehicle down so that the driver can tuck himself in again behind the vehicle in front. The driver can, of course, override the system at any time. The method employed for issuing warnings in production vehicles is up to each vehicle manufacturer.