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Continental Tests Highly-Automated Driving

Mar 23, 2012

Successful outcome to testing conducted on public roads in Nevada, USA. Different driving scenarios for highly-automated driving with close-to-production technologies realized for the first time.

The vehicle was equipped with close-to-production technologies for monitoring immediate surroundings and actuators.

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Frankfurt am Main, Germany / Las Vegas, USA. Human error is still the greatest risk factor on the roads: Driver mistakes were found to be the cause of over 80 percent of all accidents involving personal injuries in Germany in 2010 according to the German Federal Statistical Office. Advanced driver assistance systems can offer remedies. On the one hand they can support the driver in demanding and difficult situations and on the other hand develop room for freedom during monotonous driving situations which are often accompanied by the risk of decreasing attention. Especially the latter is a potential field of application for highly-automated driving. Continental, the international automotive supplier, has now completed a two-week endurance test in the US state of Nevada. More than 6,000 miles of highly-automated driving on public roads in Nevada were completed and had the aim to show that it becomes possible to develop room for freedom for the driver which does not serve primary vehicle guidance and therefore provide the driver a welcome change in certain situations. Especially aspects of driving safety were evaluated. Nevada is the first US state to explicitly permit automated driving on public roads.

Different driving scenarios for highly-automated driving with close-to-production technologies were realized for the first time.

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The highly-automated driving concept tested in Nevada is largely based on the knowledge and experiences acquired through the winner car of the DARPA Urban Challenge in 2007 and during the EU funded research project HAVEit. It is equipped with close-to-production technologies for monitoring a vehicle’s immediate surroundings and actuators for the first time. The new stereo camera whose sensors can measure the distance and size of potential obstacles, the MK 100 electronically controllable braking system and electric power steering (EPS) were installed. The test also served as an investigation of possible use cases and the determination of the safety-related acceptable operating range at fully automated mode of the vehicle.

The equipment in Continental's research vehicle differs from the laser sensors and tailor-made actuators in other highly-automated or autonomous vehicles, in that it is especial. "The vehicle is able to use close-to-production sensors and logic to detect more complex scenarios and, consequently, is able to relieve drivers of the tedium of monotonous activities, such as driving in traffic jams, by automating", said Matthias Strauß, project engineer for advanced driver assistance systems in the Advanced Engineering department in Continental's Chassis & Safety Division. Such traffic jam scenarios were also driven during the test. In situations which exceeded the current capabilities of highly-automated driving, such as where road markings could not be detected or if the bends were too tight, the system switched itself off and the driver had to resume control of the vehicle. If the driver failed to react, the vehicle’s speed was gradually reduced until it came to a stop.

More than 6,000 miles of highly-automated driving on public roads in Nevada were completed.

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Continental's sites in Frankfurt, Germany, and Auburn Hills in Michigan, USA, have combined their know-how so as to develop and test the system further. In the next step, the gained experiences will help to enhance advanced driver assistance system availability. The results also represent an important step on the road toward realizing the vision of accident-free driving.