The Next Big Safety Innovation: Emergency Steer Assist Helps Drivers Avoid Collisions

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The Next Big Safety Innovation: Emergency Steer Assist Helps Drivers Avoid Collisions

We’re starting to hear about features that will help drivers avoid certain car accidents, such as Ford’s Collision Warning System and Volvo’s City Safety (stops a vehicle from a low-speed impact). And according to Continental AG, the next big thing is on its way – the ability to avoid collisions at normal driving speeds.

Continental has developed its Emergency Steer Assist (ESA), which is suitable for vehicles that come equipped with electronic power steering and an adjustable suspension. Here’s how it works: the vehicle’s front radar first feeds information to the chassis computer. This, in turn, is calculated into closing rates and how likely it how be to perform an evasive maneuver or if a collision could take place. What’s cool about this technology is that is stiffens the suspension and offers torque assist in steering efforts that attempt to induce correcting steering maneuvers from the driver.

It’s the last part of this equation that’s so unique to this type of driving safety feature. “If the driver of a vehicle traveling at high speed has gone beyond the last possible point where braking would have an effect, it may still be possible to avoid an accident through steering, or by taking evasive action. This possibility is not yet being actively incorporated into driving safety,” said Dr. Peter Laier, Vice President of the Chassis Components for Continental.

In order for ESA to work properly, a vehicle must be fitted with sensors that monitor the road as far ahead as possible. The video images from the camera systems are combined with radar signals, which will be sent to the vehicle’s chassis. This will teach the vehicle to learn to “see” oncoming hazard situations before a collision takes place, and will send the appropriate correcting steering maneuvers to the driver.

Watch for this technology to come to a car near you in the next two to four years. Until then, you’ll just have to keep your eyes on the road and pay attention.

  • David DeVeau

    Self Driving Vehicles require a broad spectrum of constant monitoring of surrounding traffic and are viable in highway conditions wherein everyone is traveling in the same direction and at approximately the same speed and even then when finally approved will introduce restrictive measures like dedicated lanes until almost every vehicle is so equipped. The same will apply with any type of computerized reactive steering measures to avoid an accident. Simply put it is one thing to automatically apply the brakes when something enters the control zone but to implement complex maneuvers at high speed would be the equivalent to a NASA mission maneuvering multiple crafts through an asteroid field. Even if this were conceivable the variables are enormous and will again require every vehicle to be so equipped before being able to transfer the liability from the driver onto the manufacturer. Never mind a level of public trust that has yet to be earned with even basic safety technology.

    All these types of ideas are great for inspiration but in our real world the best we can hope for in the next two, three decades is optional driver assists and a few mandated requirements like back-up cameras. That by the way will also enable the manufactures to stop arguing against by amending the legislation with measured requirements. I.E. Vehicles that do not have at least “a angle” of clear view rear will require a back-up camera.

    I have been in the personnel safety engineering design profession for about 40 years and my enclosures have been used in a multiple of extreme harsh environments…

    To learn more,,, “ DJ DeVco “

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