Automatic Steering Assistance Technology Helping Prevent Vehicle Collisions

More than 150,000 people are killed each year in traffic accidents in India according to data released by the government. One of the reasons why these road fatalities happen is because drivers slam their brakes suddenly or swerve recklessly to avoid an impending collision. On busy highways, this can lead to chain reaction accidents or pile-ups. Vehicle manufacturers are using a new technology called automatic steering avoidance in cars to prevent such collisions. So far, top-of-the-line vehicles such as Mercedes and Lexus vehicles are the ones that have this technology.

Automatic Swerving

Automatic steering assistance system can automatically swerve your vehicle to avoid objects and pedestrians. This technology reacts faster than a driver would in a situation where an obstacle suddenly appears in front of a vehicle. If there is significant time before a collision, the system warns the driver using light and sound. Then there is a decision-making system that calculates whether swerving would be the best action to take to avoid an accident. For the system to swerve when it detects the risk of collision, it has to decide if there is enough free space in the sides and backwards. The system does this to ensure that other vehicles on the evasive lane are far enough away so that a chain reaction accident does not happen. It’s all about enhancing your ability to drive safely.

Upcoming Tech in Car Industry

Automatic Braking

In a situation where there is no free space to swerve into and a collision is unavoidable, the system automatically applies the brakes to reduce the severity of the collision. A great example of a similar system is Tesla’s Model X and Model S vehicles’ Automatic Emergency Braking system. The AEB system uses a forward-looking camera and radar to determine the distance between objects from the car. The system works quickly to determine whether it is best for the car to stop in a situation where a collision may happen.

How the system works

The automatic steering assistance is made possible by a front radar, front camera, rear-left radar, rear right radar and laser scanner.  All these work with the vehicle’s ECU which helps identify its lane of travel, speed and helps the vehicle recognize its surroundings. The ECU processes data from the sensors, cameras and laser scanner in real time.  The data includes imagery from the camera, a number of oncoming vehicles and their path of travel detected by the sensors and more. The system can use this to measure the speed of surrounding objects and then process quickly the likely results that would arise from certain steering inputs.

What it all means

Technologies like automatic steering assistance are improving rapidly as the auto industry gets closer and closer to creating fully autonomous cars. Meanwhile, these technologies are being integrated into normal vehicles to enhance safe driving.  These systems may actually become better at operating vehicles than humans in a few years to come. In such a scenario insurers may refuse to ensure vehicles without these systems or charge higher monthly rates for the same reason. Eventually, lawmakers may ban human drivers from busy roads altogether.

Ranbeer Maver is a Computer Science undergraduate. He's a geek who embraces any new consumer technology with inhuman enthusiasm.