Fleet safety technology is advancing in new directions. Now, the emphasis is on avoiding incidents altogether - rather than minimising the effects of a collision on a driver or passengers. Existing and future tech is bringing a vision of zero collisions closer, and driving down fleet vehicle downtime.
Autonomous Emergency Braking, or AEB, has become near-ubiquitous on new cars - it’s either offered as an option, or as standard, on more than half of all new vehicles sold in the United Kingdom. The technology uses sensors to detect objects with which a vehicle may collide, and has become so sensitive that it can detect the presence of people and small machines (such as bicycles or motorbikes).
AEB activates in two modes - Urban Mode, which is designed to sense and brake appropriately for sub-25mph speeds; and Highway Mode, which is calibrated for cruising at speeds of greater than 20mph. The low-speed version of the technology is capable of reducing rear-end collisions by 38%.
Vauxhall’s Intellilux lighting system splits the lights of the new Astra into 16 sections - eight on each side of the car. A front-mounted camera system analyses the distribution of other road users, and turns each lighting section on or off accordingly. The road remains perfectly illuminated, but the danger to other road users (from dazzle) is significantly diminished.
The driver’s sightlines are also improved by matrix lighting. On average, drivers using matrix lighting were able to identify peripheral objects 35 metres sooner than drivers using standard xenon and Halogen lights. This equates to an extra 1.5 seconds’ reaction time.
Safety Shield technologies
Nissan has introduced a whole suite of driver safety and collision-avoidance technologies to models including the Juke, Qashqai, and X-Trail. Known as Safety Shield, the suite includes full beam assistance (similar to matrix lighting, it uses cameras to turn main beams on and off), sign recognition systems, driver attention alarms, wandering alerts, moving object alarms, and blind spot warning sounds.
Driver Wellness Monitoring
Jaguar Land Rover’s research and development department isn’t lagging in the safety stakes. Its future tech sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but it’s all based on real-world systems used in the medical sphere.
A driver wellness monitor could create an overall picture of a driver’s physical fitness to control the car, monitoring breathing rate and heartbeat to detect stress, tiredness, and sudden changes in rhythm - indicators of an impending incident. The monitor, installed in the seat of an XJ, would be similar to technology already active in hospitals.
Could your hands hold the key to your level of wakefulness? According to Jaguar Land Rover’s Mind Sense project, this is a distinct possibility. Sensors in a steering wheel may be able to detect changes in brainwave activity by analysing input from the hands. As brainwaves settle into a sleeping pattern, or a pattern indicative of a daydream state, the system would trigger an alert - potentially with haptic feedback through the wheel itself.
Haptic communication (physical feedback from a device to a human) is also key in Jaguar Land Rover’s plans for future accelerator pedals. Working in concert with collision sensors and other threat analytics, a haptic accelerator pedal would be able to prod a driver into action by pulsing under the foot.