Taking the risk out of heavy city-centre driving
We hear so much about autonomous braking and self-driving cars these days it is easy to overlook some other areas of development. City centre traffic appears to be the new focus, judging by what a special project is attempting to achieve.
Opel are part of it and they tell us that there is a new concentration on developing technology to ease the driving burden in inner-city scenarios.
This can be a complicated part of the journey because there are several other types of traffic with which to contend - from trucks to cyclists.
The research is part of the UR:BAN project (31 'partners' from motoring, electronics and software companies, as well as institutes, local authorities).
Opel say they have built an Insignia demo vehicle that warns of danger and takes automatic action through steering and braking in tight traffic.
Advanced camera/radar systems as well as modified braking and steering allow it to intervene.
Another push is a specially-developed algorithm which analyses driver behaviour patterns so the system can predict what the driver is going to do next - such as changing lanes.
But it is not all about avoiding collisions. There is work afoot to reduce the level of risk and braking at lights and intersections.
They have built a demonstration vehicle based on the Insignia Sports Tourer which sends information, via wifi, that can help you approach an intersection smoothly so you save fuel and reduce the likelihood of having to stop. It's all about timing. The information is shown on a Man-Machine-Interface (MMI) which uses the Driver Info Centre in the instrument panel as well as further information in the central console.
Much of this work is part of the general thrust these days towards cars becoming more 'intelligent' in how they assess situations and decide when intervention is necessary.
The good thing about it is how quickly all these technologies make it into ordinary cars these days.