Continental Contributing Intelligent Intersection Technology to Smart Cities for Safer Roads

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【Summary】Continental is testing out its Intelligent Intersection technology, which was first demonstrated on a test track in October 2017 at Continental's development center in Brimley, Michigan. The next steps include a broader test roll-out and pilot implementation of the technology at an intersection in the City of Columbus, Ohio.

Original   Eric Walz  ·  Dec 21, 2017 9:05 AM PT
author: Eric Walz   

LAS VEGAS — Intersections and T-road junctions are notorious traffic trouble spots in many urban areas. A majority of motor vehicle accidents that occur at intersections are due to human error. Problems such as lack of attention, misjudging the situation, and occluded cars or other vulnerable road users account for many accidents and road fatalities worldwide. To address this problem, Continental is testing out its Intelligent Intersection technology which was first demonstrated on a test track in October 2017.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 51 percent of all injury crashes and 28 percent of all fatal crashes in the United States occur at intersections. Automotive technology company Continental is committed to address these problems with its advanced driver assistance, Vehicle-to-X communications (V2X), and sensor technologies to turn today's dangerous intersections into safer, more intelligent intersections.

Continental's new technology detects road objects within a 360° perimeter of intersections and communicates the position and movement of these objects to all approaching vehicles, which are equipped with V2X technology.

The Continental Intelligent Intersection concept comprises the complete sensor set for an intersection, the powerful sensor fusion algorithms which generate the environment model, and the Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) units, both at the intersection, and in the vehicle.

One focus is on protecting people, including pedestrians and cyclists. Another focus is on supporting drivers in complex intersection traffic scenarios like preventing left-turning cars from running head-on into traffic that approaches from behind an occlusion.

The city of Columbus, Ohio won the Smart Cities Challenge last year, so it has become a test city for new technologies that can improve transportation and reduce collisions. As a result, Continental chose Columbus to contribute to this effort.

"We are proud to contribute our Intelligent Intersections technology to a highly innovative city like Columbus as our contribution to the US DOT's Smart City Challenge," said Jeremy McClain, Head of Systems & Technology Chassis & Safety, Continental North America. "Our solution is based on transferring and adapting vehicle-proven hardware and software solutions to an infrastructure application. Cities will be able to deploy this technology to increase safety for their citizens and visitors alike. In the longer term the technology can also serve to improve inner-city traffic flow, thereby reducing travel time and vehicle emissions."

Intelligent Intersections Reduce Accidents Caused by Human Error

Sensor-based driver assistance makes driving safer with each step of advancement. However, pedestrians or cyclists will only benefit from this technology if they can be detected by a vehicle's sensors. Often, typical traffic situations at intersections make that difficult. Other vehicles and city infrastructure, such as buildings, can easily obstruct vulnerable road users and even other vehicles.

The underlying challenge is posed by effects like sensor shading and obstruction of view. By bringing vehicle-proven technologies to the infrastructure, Continental is addressing this challenge.

"With the Intelligent Intersection technology we offer a new safety element with a perfect fit for future smart cities," said Bastian Zydek, Project Manager Intelligent Intersection. "The Intelligent Intersection is a showcase of collaborative safety and a further step towards reaching our Vision Zero – our vision of accident-free driving."

How Intelligent Intersection Technology Works

Sensors including camera, radar and Lidar are positioned at the corners of a busy intersection. The hardware detects every road user in the area and delivers a list of relevant objects to a sensor fusion processing unit, which generates a comprehensive 360° environmental model.

Relevant objects are then broadcasted via Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) to every vehicle approaching the intersection.

Next, a DSRC control unit in the vehicle receives the messages, then an onboard system checks it for relevance and triggers and appropriate action if a critical situation is recognized.

"Active monitoring of intersections provides the driver and/or intelligent vehicle system a very important time advantage to take action, even before a problem would have otherwise become visible", added Zydek.

According to a study of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), many thousands of accidents in the U.S. could be avoided through Intelligent Intersection technologies such as VRU protection and DSRC Intersection Safety Functions.

The benefits of the Intelligent Intersection technology for V2X equipped vehicles is that each of those will benefit immediately from the Intersections Safety Functions – already when only a single V2X equipped vehicle enters the Intelligent Intersection - so from the beginning, even at an early phase of V2X penetration: "The cars equipped will help to protect other road users", said Steffen Linkenbach, Managing Director of Continental Safety Engineering International.

Continental will also leverage of that 360° understanding of the traffic situation at intersections and upload such information into its backend. Here Continental will analyze the data enabling a better understanding of traffic flow and congestion.

"In the future the granular understanding of traffic, like density, distribution of the traffic flow per lane and so on, which results from the Intelligent Intersection technology, can also help to improve the flow of inner-city traffic, supporting drivers and other road users with further new or enhanced services", added Linkenbach.

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