According to the reports since 2000, the increase in the number of cars has also increased the amount of accidents all over the word. In USA alone, the number of accidents is more than 110 million and almost 1 million of them have been highly fatal. This clearly shows that car crashes is one of the most life taking hazards in the world.
Researchers all over the world and car manufacturers have been able to provide luxury cars with all the major necessities like smooth, powerful rides, efficient vehicles, environment friendly vehicles and so on. There has also been a huge development in the safety system development for cars.
Some of them are given below.
- Automated cruise control
- Sensor systems based on radar/laser that automatically slows down the car or warns the driver when another vehicle is in close range.
- A bind-spot warning system, which is used to notify the driver that a vehicle is in a very close range, and is used mostly in foggy places or when the driver finds it unable to see the road clearly.
- Traction control system, which is used by the car to stop itself by applying efficient brakes when it starts to skid.
- Stability assistance, which helps the driver to regain the car’s stability after he/she loses it.
Even, with all these techniques equipped in most of the modern cars, the chance for a car crash is still high as there is a lack of “intelligent transportation”.
Intelligent Transportation System (ITS)
ITS is a much more practical system that is proposed for cars in which the car will be able to sense as well as communicate with other vehicles on road so as to avoid the accidents almost every time. A new ITS algorithm is being developed by MIT engineers in which older cars that cannot be equipped with any of these technologies is also considered. The algorithm includes all sorts of human driving behavior which can account to a sudden collision. The anti-collision methods such as warning the driver, automatic control of the vehicle is also included in the algorithm.
All the experiments with this algorithm and its results will be published in the next IEEE journal edition. The people behind this work includes Rajeev Verma, a visiting PhD student at MIT this academic year, and Domitilla Del Vecchio, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and W. M. Keck, Career Development Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering.
Many problems will have to be overcome by the developers. The main problem will be in handling the vehicle safely without making the system become over-conservative. When a vehicle is very near to ours, the probability of a collision against not is highly sensitive. But, if we consider such a highly sensitive system, the driver will always feel like ignoring the warnings given to him by the system.
Thus, for such an algorithm the human behaviour prediction pattern must also be considered. According to Del Vecchio and Verma, all driver drive in two main modes – braking and accelerating. For either mode, the distance that the car maintains in the future (that is, a tenth of a second to about 10 seconds later) is calculated and a finite set of possible results are established.
Thus, the new system will include all the possible positions, along with the human behaviour model of a driver in a car. For example, the positions where the driver will be slowing down the car at the upcoming turn and so on will be calculated and the necessary instructions will be given.
If the car is meeting another car in an intersection, the distance between them and a particular area in which the two cars may collide will also be calculated. Once the ITS enabled car calculates these parameters, it also uses the driver behaviour algorithm and predicts the position of both the cars at the intersection. If the system predicts a crash, the driver will be alerted or other remedial measures will be taken. If both the cars are ITS equipped, then the calculation of parameters will much more easier.
Several tests were conducted inside the lab using miniature cars and there were instances when the cars collided each other though they were equipped with ITS. As you can see from the picture below, a miniature car that is equipped with ITS is made to move along a track where it overlaps a non-ITS equipped vehicle.
Vecchino explained that the reason was the delay in communication between the ITS vehicles and the work station. The workstation refers to the electronic part that is setup on the tracks that is used to capture and send signals regarding the vehicles that are not equipped with ITS. Though the delay is just a fraction of a second, that time is more than enough for the vehicles to collide. To solve the communication problem, the researchers are planning to make the system robust to these delays – that is, to make sure that the system is conservative enough to avoid a situation in which a communication delay could mean the difference between crashing and not crashing.