'Smart' Vehicles Put to the Test

Nov. 5, 2001
DOT will spend the next three years testing an intelligent vehicle operational system that warns drivers when they've left the road.

Until now, a car or truck was generally as "smart" as the person behind the wheel. That might be changing.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is launching a test of an intelligent vehicle operational system designed to help drivers avoid run-off-the-road crashes. The system warns drivers when they are about to drift off the road and crash into an obstacle or are traveling too fast for an upcoming curve.

"Too many lives are lost on our nation''s highways, and this initiative is another step toward improving highway safety through the use of new technologies," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said. "The Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI) system studied in this test is intended to help save lives and reduce injuries by preventing crashes before they occur."

The system warns of an imminent collision, but the driver retains control of the vehicle. The system operates on straight and curved paved roads as well as day or night and in light rain.

Run-off-the-road crashes account for more than 20 percent of all police-reported crashes (1.2 million a year) and more than 41 percent of all in-vehicle fatalities (15,000 a year). The test system has the potential to prevent run-off-the-road crashes caused by driver inattention, distraction, drowsiness, and excessive speed.

The test will involve about 120 drivers, ranging in age from 18 to 70, who will use 10 equipped cars for several weeks each in the Detroit region of southeast Michigan. The test, scheduled to last three years, will follow about 120 drivers. They will spend several weeks driving cars equipped with the system. On-road testing is scheduled to start in 2003.

The tests will assess the ability of the system technology to support its commercial deployment, predict driver acceptance, and evaluate the safety implications of deployment.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Visteon Corp. in Dearborn, Mich., and AssistWare Technology Inc. in Wexford, Penn, are partners in the test. Navigation Technologies, a company based in Chicago, will supply the map database, a critical component of the system. The $18.5 million cost of the test is split between public and private sector partners.

For additional information, visit DOT''s ITS Web site at www.its.dot.gov.

by Sandy Smith

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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