Continental: PRORETA 3 – Third Research Project on the Accident-Avoiding Vehicle Concluded

Networking of individual assistance systems: Continental and the TU Darmstadt explore a comprehensive driver assistance and automated maneuver concept. PRORETA 3 aims to evolve a system which keeps the vehicle in a safe driving corridor; cooperative automation makes automated driving maneuvers possible. Innovative Human Machine Interface allows intuitive understanding of the system state and the …

  • Networking of individual assistance systems: Continental and the TU Darmstadt explore a comprehensive driver assistance and automated maneuver concept.
  • PRORETA 3 aims to evolve a system which keeps the vehicle in a safe driving corridor; cooperative automation makes automated driving maneuvers possible.
  • Innovative Human Machine Interface allows intuitive understanding of the system state and the distribution of tasks between driver and vehicle.
Passing through a construction site and display of the instrument cluster with red marked hazard area
Passing through a construction site and display of the instrument cluster with red marked hazard area

During the research project PRORETA 3, which lasted for a period of three and a half years, the international automotive supplier Continental and the Technische Universität (TU) Darmstadt explored a comprehensive driver assistance and automated maneuver concept. “So far, assistance systems such as Lane Keeping Assist or Forward Collision Warning have been working as independent, individual systems in vehicles. In PRORETA 3, we have integrated the driver assistance systems in such a way that the functions have been enhanced and functioning synergies have been achieved,” explains Professor Dr. Hermann Winner, Chair of the Institute of Automotive Engineering at TU Darmstadt and the PRORETA 3 project manager. “Integration allows optimum exploitation of the existing sensor infrastructure in the vehicle. The driver in the research vehicle is supported by a complete system for driving safety and assistance – with the ultimate objective of avoiding accidents,” adds Dr. Peter Rieth, Head of Systems & Technology in the Continental Chassis & Safety Division. In addition, research was carried out on an innovative information and warning concept which takes the pressure off drivers and helps them cope with the driving situation. The PRORETA 3 research results and the research vehicle were presented today at the August Euler Airfield in Griesheim (near Darmstadt, Germany).

Vehicle is kept permanently in a safe driving corridor

Testing of hazardous situations: ignoring a red light
Testing of hazardous situations: ignoring a red light

While driving, the vehicle is kept permanently in a safe driving corridor in conformity with traffic regulations – the so-called safety corridor. This happens, as long as possible, without any intervention. If critical situations arise, the system intervenes with warnings or even corrective maneuvers if necessary – for example, when cornering at excessive speeds, when obstacles suddenly appear, at intersections and construction sites as well as during turning maneuvers, wrong-way driving or non-compliance with a red light.

For this safety corridor, the PRORETA 3 concept  determines the free space available for the vehicle. The model takes into account the predicted positions of other vehicles, road boundaries and obstacles as well as road lane markings. These are all used to calculate the vehicle’s trajectory. The regulation of this trajectory and the information displayed to the driver in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) constitute a consistent driver assistance concept that assists the driver and protects against potential hazards.

Automated execution of selected vehicle maneuvers

In addition to the permanent safety function, PRORETA 3 offers the driver a ‘cooperative automation’ option, which is a maneuver-based and partly automated way of driving. On driver command, the research vehicle takes over longitudinal and lateral movement for whole maneuvers. These include both lane changes and turning maneuvers at intersections. In order to delegate turning, for example, it suffices if the driver activates the turn signal at a certain distance before an intersection – this initiates automated execution of the maneuver. “PRORETA 3 is the first time such a concept of automation on a maneuvering level has been able to be implemented in a research vehicle,” Professor Dr. Hermann Winner reports.

Research was done on an innovative information and warning concept for the PRORETA 3 research vehicle: the PRORETA instrument cluster, a 360-degree light strip with coordinated audible warning signals as well as the Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal (AFFP) inform the driver in an intuitive way about the current assistance mode and relevant hazard situations. A camera inside the vehicle continually analyzes the driver’s viewing behavior. Depending on the viewing direction, the driver’s attention is drawn specifically to critical traffic situations with the aid of a ‘light comet.’ “The transparent way that these innovative instruments work allows drivers to familiarize themselves quickly and easily with the new function,” Ralf Lenniger, Head of Interior Electronics Solutions at Continental’s Interior Division, elaborates.

Long tradition of research cooperation – twelve years of PRORETA

PRORETA 3 was launched in 2011 and is the third interdisciplinary research project between Continental and the TU Darmstadt related to the accident-avoiding vehicle. The TU Darmstadt institutes involved include Automotive Engineering, Ergonomics, Control Methods and Robotics and well as Control Engineering and Mechatronics.

The first PRORETA project (2002 – 2006) focused on an assistance concept for emergency braking and avoiding obstacles such as stationary vehicles or vehicles driving ahead. PRORETA 2 (2006 – 2009) introduced a passing assistant which can prevent accidents with oncoming traffic. The Technische Universität Darmstadt (formerly Technische Hochschule) and Continental have been cooperating on research projects since the 1980s.

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