A new project being undertaken by BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Opel will look to improve driver-assistance technology and adapt it for urban roadway settings. The European auto giants will be joined by a coalition of 31 partners from the automotive industry, electronics/software development, research institutes and various municipalities.
Begun in 2012, the UR:BAN project was conceived as a four-year endeavor to develop and test new driver-assistance technologies. The project team has focused efforts on three main areas: Cognitive Assistance (identification of/reaction to roadway obstacles and events), Networked Traffic System (improving traffic flow) and Human Factors in Traffic (driver-vehicle interaction).
Ideas being pursued under Cognitive Assistance include an autonomous braking/steering system that can identify different scenarios and react accordingly from BMW and a separate system that avoids impacts via steering rather than braking, from Opel. Mercedes is working on a dashboard camera that recognizes when a driver is looking over their shoulder so the car can provide lane-change assistance.
Networked Traffic System research—also headlined by BMW and Opel—focuses on ways to relay live traffic data and signal timing information to a vehicle. The automakers are particularly interested in applying these concepts to hybrid and plug-in vehicles.
Finally, Human Factors in Traffic research will focus on systems that can adapt and event predict driver reactions, such as brake assist.