Forty-seven percent of all truck accidents take place in monotonous situations such as traffic jams, according to the European Truck Accident Causation Study. Those accidents take place with vehicles traveling in the same direction, or in stressful situations such as crossroads and road-works.
Now technology is being developed to help ensure that this type of accident becomes less frequent, according to Transport News Network.
The EU's Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport (HAVEit) project is focusing heavily on next-generation intelligent vehicles with advanced driver-assistance systems that can save lives and the environment. The HAVEit project aims to develop a sort of virtual co-driver that responds to the current traffic situation and the driver's needs. Tomorrow's vehicles are being developed to assist the driver by actually taking over certain tasks when necessary.
This technology relies on sensors on the outside of the vehicle that respond to the traffic environment, scan lane markings, road signs, the current traffic situation, and the road conditions. An internal system monitors the drivers and interprets their needs. The truck is also enhanced so that it can all be controlled electronically.
Twenty companies including vehicle manufacturers and universities are involved in the project, which started in 2008. The companies hope that in 2011, the project should demonstrate the new technology in seven vehicles, three of them heavy commercial vehicles from Volvo Technology.
One truck currently undergoing a digital transformation at Volvo Technology in Göteborg, Sweden is designed to assist the driver in repetitive traffic tailback situations characterized by monotonous progress at low-speed. The truck should automatically stop if the vehicle in front stops, and start moving again without the driver pressing the accelerator. Another system under development is dedicated to keeping the truck in the middle of its lane without the driver having to do anything.
Project coordinator Reiner Hoeger hopes that some of the technology will go into production in about 2012, with more advanced functions hoped to be in production by 2020.