Sit back and relax, your car is about to avoid a nasty bump
IT could take a few years to perfect but the day when your car would take control of a crash situation could be sooner than you think.
Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) have long been a goal of computer and automotive engineers.
Modern cars frequently come with systems that allow them to park themselves, or assist braking when a rear-end collision is likely.
But the long-term aim is to create cars that can intelligently assess the road situation, communicate with other vehicles, and successfully avoid crashes.
And as the new technologies come into widespread use, they are going to have to share the road with old-fashioned human motorists -- meaning that they are going to have to be able to predict human driving behaviour.
A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States is working on a system that can anticipate other road users' actions and warn the driver of approaching danger -- and, if needs be, take control of the car itself.
The research is to be published in the journal 'IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine'.
Authors Rajeev Verma and Domitilla Del Vecchio looked at how drivers brake and accelerate, and the possible places a car could be at a future time given its position and speed in the present.
This information is added to models of human driving behaviour to create an algorithm which predicts a car's actions, and computes the possible areas where cars would be in danger of colliding.
When both cars have ITS, they can communicate wirelessly to indicate their positions and help avoid crashes.
The MIT team have tested the algorithm with two miniature vehicles on overlapping tracks.
One vehicle would be controlled by ITS, and one by one of eight human drivers (to give varied driving styles).
And in the 100 trials, 97 collisions were successfully avoided.