Automatic warning, braking systems on autos will help save lives, research predicts

Automatic warning, braking systems on autos will help save lives, research predicts

03 October 2012 Virginia Tech

The second highest cause of automobile crashes is rear-end collisions – 17 percent. Thousands of people die. The solution? “It is simple,” said Clay Gabler, a professor of biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech. “Slow the striking vehicle.”

The concept is simple. Execution is complex and expensive. But in a life-and-death scenario, it is worth the investment, agree Gabler and Kristofer Kusano of Herndon, Va., a doctoral student in mechanical engineering. In affiliation with the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest Center for Injury Biomechanics and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, they are conducting research on the potential benefit of a suite of collision avoidance systems now available as options on some new cars.

Their research, which has been published in peer-reviewed journals, predicts that the use of three systems may reduce serious injuries by 50 percent.

Gabler and Kusano are looking at three systems that can operate independently or in sequence to prevent or mitigate a front collision. They have looked at one generic system that begins with a warning 1.7 seconds before a potential crash. Once alerted, if the driver begins to apply the brakes, there is brake assistance. “The car says, ‘Let me show you how to do it more effectively and applies the necessary braking force’,” said Gabler.

Finally, 0.45 seconds before the collision, the car will add 0.6 G to the braking effort, or if there is no braking, will apply the brakes autonomously.

“These systems require radar and sophisticated computers. So there is a lot of interest in determining how efficient they could be to guide development,” said Kusano.

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