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New Radar and Camera-Based Driver Assistance System Prevents Serious Accidents

Oct 6, 2009

PRORETA 2: After three years of research work, Continental and Darmstadt Technical University demonstrate their prototype overtaking assistance system.

Frankfurt am Main/Darmstadt, Germany. At present, two out of three fatal traffic accidents in Germany occur on country roads, and overtaking maneuvers are responsible for many of these accidents, resulting in serious injuries or fatalities. Today, in Darmstadt, Continental, the international automotive supplier, demonstrated a driver assistance system which detects dangerous overtaking maneuvers at an early stage and so helps to avoid accidents; the system was developed together with Darmstadt Technical University as part of the second interdisciplinary PRORETA collaborative research project. "The prototype of this overtaking assistance system shows that it is possible to develop the complex technology which combines radar and video environmental sensors with braking intervention", said Dr. Peter Rieth, Senior Vice President of Systems & Technology in the Chassis & Safety Division. However, there is still a long way to go before full system production launch because, according to Dr. Rieth, "in addition to developing the system up to technical production readiness, there is also the question of whether drivers will accept the system". 

Radar and video sensors provide an exact overview of the area around the vehicle Radar and Camera-Based Driver Assistance System Prevents Serious Accidents due to Overtaking Maneuvers.

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PRORETA 2 is the continuation of the initial PRORETA project which ran from 2003 to 2006 and which researched the principles of a braking and avoidance system which would try to prevent an accident if obstacles suddenly appeared in the road. In addition to such emergency situations, the terms of reference for PRORETA 2 were to analyze classical overtaking maneuvers in the face of oncoming traffic and to defuse hazardous situations through suitable countermeasures.

 In addition to video and radar sensors, the test vehicle was also fitted with a development platform for monitoring the immediate area around it. Active braking intervention was also introduced. The video data is used for detecting objects and areas free of objects. "The next step is to combine this data with the radar data for object tracking and to create a grid-based representation of the immediate environment", said Prof. Bernt Schiele of Darmstadt University's Institute for Multimodal Interactive Systems. "Combining the video and radar data creates an electronic image of the area around the vehicle and thus provides the basis for a situation analysis", explained Prof. Hermann Winner of Darmstadt Technical University's Institutes for Vehicle Engineering.

Click here to download this image Radar and Camera-Based Driver Assistance System Prevents Serious Accidents due to Overtaking Maneuvers

The system uses the sensor and vehicle dynamics data to constantly calculate the position of its own vehicle and the positions of the vehicle in front and of any oncoming vehicle and decides whether there is sufficient room for a successful overtaking maneuver. If, when pulling out to overtake, the system reckons that either the oncoming vehicle or the vehicle being overtaken might be at risk, it warns the driver with increasing urgency to abort the overtaking maneuver. In the PRORETA demonstration vehicle, the warnings are displayed visually, issued acoustically as a spoken warning and positively felt by a sensory response from a vibrating accelerator pedal. If these produce no effect, the system intervenes, electronically activating the braking system and slowing the vehicle down so that the driver can tuck himself in again behind the vehicle in front. The driver can, of course, override the system at any time. The method employed for issuing warnings in production vehicles is up to each vehicle manufacturer.

Continental supported the collaborative project research work undertaken by Darmstadt Technical University's Institutes for Automation Engineering (Prof. Rolf Isermann) and Vehicle Engineering (Prof. Hermann Winner) and by Multimodal Interactive Systems (Prof. Bernt Schiele). The actual task was carried out by four research associates.

Long-standing collaboration between industry and university

A long-standing partnership has existed between Darmstadt Technical University and Continental's Chassis & Safety Division. The first joint research project carried out together with the vehicle engineering faculty began as early as the 1980s. Prof. Rolf Isermann stressed the importance of projects such as PRORETA: "They provide our students with exciting research work which is closely linked to industrial companies." Dr. Rieth spelled out Continental's aims: "We regard it as our entrepreneurial task to strengthen cooperation between university science studies and industry and to introduce students and research associates as early as possible to industry-related development issues. We want to make a positive contribution in this area. It helps us to make progress with our ContiGuard safety system and to advance a little further our vision of road traffic without fatal or serious injuries."

ContiGuard® integrates active and passive safety systems and environmental data into a comprehensive vehicle safety system, whose overall effectiveness significantly exceeds the sum of its individual sub-systems. This will considerably increase the potential for preventing accidents and for reducing injuries caused by accidents.

So as to continue the successful collaboration between Continental and Darmstadt Technical University, both partners signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement for future joint projects and research initiatives in the field of vehicle safety at the concluding PRORETA 2 event.

Two thirds of all fatal accidents occur on country roads

Even if German drivers regard country roads as safer than autobahns or city traffic, driving on country roads poses a significantly greater risk of accidents and death than does driving on freeways at generally greater speeds. Two out of three road traffic fatalities occur on roads outside built-up areas other than autobahns. Around 3,000 of the total 4,477 fatalities last year occurred on such roads. There are a variety of reasons for this: complicated road layouts, narrow traffic lanes, oncoming traffic and virtually every type of road user, from special-purpose agricultural vehicles to motorcycles, bicycles, buses, cars, trucks and pedestrians. The greatly varying speeds at which these road users drive increases the need to overtake and, since these roads also carry oncoming traffic, life-threatening traffic situations often arise. The driver assistance system demonstrated today is intended to assist drivers both when deciding whether to overtake and while carrying out the maneuver itself and should thus help to avoid hazardous traffic situations in the first place.


Nicole Geissler

External Communications


Division Chassis & Safety

Guerickestraße 7

60488 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Tel.:   +49 69 7603-8492

Fax:   +49 69 7603-3945

Jörg Feuck

Head of Corporate Communications

Technische Universität Darmstadt

Rundeturmstraße 12

64283 Darmstadt, Germany

Tel.: +49 6151-16 4731

Fax: +49 6151-164128

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