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Continental Automotive Systems:
ACC to handle urban driving routine
ACDIS for Active Distance Support
and APIA... Active Passive Integration Approach

Full Range ACC system from Continental Automotive Systems (photos: Continental Automotive Systems).

Full range adaptive cruise control can now also be used around town or in tailbacks, relieving the driver of the strain of nose-to-tail motoring.

25th November 2005.

How many times did you dream in your long... long traffic jam queues, of a system which could take care of some of the routine urban driving?

First, drivers dreamt of getting rid of the clutch burden. Now, we don't have only automatic gearboxes, but other options too, such as CVTs (continuously variable transmission) and robotised manual transmissions (or clutchless manuals if you wish), even electronically controlled dual-clutch, such as the one known at VW group (under the DSG name).

But the original dream goes beyond the left leg burden. What about freeing the right leg too from its accelerator / brakes pedal valse, at least partially, in city jams?

Ask, and it will be given?! Well, the latest Continental ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) now also controls speed and distance in stop-and-go traffic... including complete stoppage.

Electronics recognize that the car is about to drift out of lane (photos: Continental Automotive Systems).

ACDIS: electronics recognize that the car is about to drift out of lane.

The new driver assistance system from Continental Automotive Systems does relieve the driver of these routine tasks, enhancing not just driving safety, but especially, reducing fatigue, saving a significant amount of that energy which is usually consumed in driving attention, only to keep it for better use as mental resource either in the next hours of the working day, or through a better attention to the family stories... about that same day.

Before the end of this year, what Continental Automotive Systems calls its Full Range ACC system will be going into volume production; a system that relieves the driver of the task of keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front, even in traffic jams or stop-and-go- traffic.

Six years after the Continental division began large-scale production of the world's first ever ACC system, a more refined means of comfortably maintaining a safe distance in traffic is set to make its debut: This is Active Distance Support (ACDIS) and it provides clear feedback to the driver via the gas pedal.

ACDIS is the first system of its kind which networks the distance sensors (photos: Continental Automotive Systems).

ACDIS provides clear feedback to the driver via the gas pedal.

ACDIS is now ready for volume production, as is the Lane Departure Warning System (LDW) and the extended Lane Keeping System (LKS).

With their special vehicle environment sensor technology, these systems warn the driver if the car is about to drift out of lane and help it stay safely in lane.

Full Range ACC - Back in 1999, Continental Automotive Systems launched ACC, the first volume production driver assistance system that processed not only vehicle-specific data but also information from the vehicle environment.

This was provided by a radar sensor that measured the distance to the vehicle in front as well as its speed. From this data and the speed of the car fitted with ACC, an electronic unit computed the required safe distance from the vehicle in front.

One year later, this was followed by a lower-cost ACC system with an infrared sensor. Both systems allow the driver to set the desired speed between 30 and 180 km/h, which is then maintained by automatic braking at up to 0.3 g and automatic acceleration to match the speed of the traffic in the selected lane, always keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

If automatic braking cannot generate sufficient braking force, the ACC system issues an acoustic warning that the driver needs to apply the brakes.

"With its additional 24 gigahertz radar for the immediate vicinity of the vehicle, the new Full Range ACC system makes the driver's life even easier, because if necessary it will brake the car to a standstill and maintain the level of brake pressure so that it cannot roll forwards or back," explains Michael Schamberger, Head of the Driver Assistance Systems product line.

CMOS camera and an image-processing algorithm survey the road ahead.  (photos: Continental Automotive Systems).

A CMOS camera (above) and an image-processing algorithm survey the road ahead and register the position of the vehicle in its lane.

"In the past, the driver always had to take over as soon as the speed dropped below 30 km/h." When the vehicle in front starts off again, Full Range ACC advises the driver, who then only has to dip the gas pedal or press a button to signal that the car can move off. It picks up speed automatically, always maintaining a safe distance. As a result, ACC can now also be used around town or in tailbacks, relieving the driver of the strain of nose-to-tail motoring.

But the benefits of ACC systems are not restricted to additional comfort and convenience.

"Studies have shown that, on long trips in particular, keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front is a strain on the driver and causes fatigue. ACC generally leads to greater distances being maintained and the driver stays on top form longer, which makes for faster reactions," explains Schamberger.

In addition, ACC can spot a change in the distance to the vehicle in front earlier than the human eye, and warns the driver of the potential danger by automatically reducing the engine output and applying the brakes, or by means of an acoustic signal.

The automatic braking process introduced by the ACC system also has the advantage that before the driver hits the brakes in response to a hazardous situation, the car has already started to brake.

Even when ACC is not activated it still helps shorten the stopping distance: If the front-end sensor registers a sharp drop in the distance to the vehicle in front, ACC triggers a slight increase in pressure in the braking system. Without the driver noticing, the pads are pressed gently against the brake discs and all travel in the system, which could waste vital fractions of a second, is eliminated (Ready Alert Brake). If it then becomes necessary to brake, the system responds to the initial brake impulse instantaneously and with maximum force.

"Studies have shown that, even with test drivers at the wheel, the total stopping distance from a speed of 100 km/h is reduced by around ten meters," says Schamberger, illustrating how effective this can be.

Active Distance Support (ACDIS) - Take your foot off the gas and get ready to brake! That's the automatic reaction of any driver when the distance to the vehicle in front suddenly drops. It is precisely this acquired behavior that is exploited and supported by Active Distance Support (ACDIS).

ACDIS from Continental Automotive Systems is the first system of its kind to network the distance sensors at the front of the vehicle with a force feedback gas pedal that was developed in collaboration with partner company AB Elektronik.

If ACDIS is deactivated and the distance to the vehicle in front falls so slowly that the driver fails to notice, an electromechanical actuator in the gas pedal generates a measured amount of counterpressure. This encourages the driver to ease off the throttle and adapt his speed to the flow of traffic.

If the distance to the vehicle ahead changes abruptly, either because it brakes sharply or another vehicle cuts into the gap, the gas pedal starts to vibrate. This motivates the driver to do more than just lift off the gas. In response, he moves his foot onto the brake pedal and is thus ready to brake much sooner than without ACDIS. With ACDIS active, the gas pedal is locked in place and serves as a comfortable footrest.

Gentle pedal motion informs the driver of system activities, such as throttling the engine output and automatic braking. If the system needs to tell the driver to increase the brake force by depressing the brake pedal, it does so once again by making the gas pedal vibrate. "This haptic feedback at the classic man-machine interface - the gas pedal - makes for a marked increase in the reliability of the driver's response. Bells or buzzers can be overheard. Visual displays on the instrument panel can be overlooked. A vibrating gas pedal, on the other hand, provides a clear signal that the driver cannot fail to notice," says Schamberger, setting out the advantages of Active Distance Support, which is now ready for volume production.

LDW and LKS - One of the most common causes of accidents is inadvertently drifting out of lane. Continental Automotive Systems solution comes in two multi-stage systems that use a CMOS camera and an image-processing algorithm to survey the road ahead of the vehicle and register the position of the vehicle in its lane.

"In simple terms, the system knows where the road is going and where the car is heading," says Schamberger. If the driver uses a turn-signal before changing lanes, the system recognizes his intention and suppresses the warning function.

If the turn-signal is not used, the system deduces that the vehicle is about to drift out of lane and warns the driver by making the steering wheel or driver's seat vibrate, or generating a "virtual washboard" sound from the loudspeakers of the car radio.

In a next step, the system becomes an active Lane Keeping System (LKS). If the electronics recognize that the car is about to drift out of lane and the driver has not signaled left or right, the system intervenes in the steering. The driver feels the steering angle that LKS is recommending as a gentle movement of the steering wheel and follows it intuitively.

That said, the driver can override the system at any time with no great effort, retaining full control of the car at all times.

LKS can be extended by a number of additional functions such as road sign recognition, extended light-sensor functions, visibility estimation, lane keeping with active steering intervention, and of course through networking with other driver assistance systems within the scope of Continental's Corporation-wide safety project APIA.

The Continental Corporation is a leading supplier of brake systems, chassis components, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers. In 2004 the corporation realized sales of 12.6 billion. At present it has a worldwide workforce of more than 81,000.

As a worldwide leading technology partner to the automotive industry, the Automotive Systems division of Continental AG integrates extensive know-how in the fields of driving safety, powertrain and comfort.

In 2004 the division achieved sales of approx. 5 billion with a workforce of more than 22,500. Automotive Systems incorporates Continental Teves and Continental Temic.

Continental Teves develops and produces electronic and hydraulic brake, stability and chassis control systems, as well as electronic air spring systems and sensors. Continental Temic is a specialist in chassis electronics, engine management and transmission control units, as well as electric drives and comfort electronics.

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