Volkswagen's Future Technology Insight
Critics say the automotive industry is solely obsessed with high performance, power and
glitzy television commercials portraying high speed; Volkswagen begs to differ.
At Head Office in Wolfsburg, Germany, Volkswagen's Group Research Department is developing
and refining innovative driver-assistance technologies that will revolutionize active vehicle safety.
Historically, these sorts of new technologies have been kept under wraps until ready for
market introduction but in an unprecedented move, Volkswagen has presented nine future systems now under development.
These new technologies have the potential to enhance road safety in much the same way as
electronic stabilization programs (ESP) have most recently shown.
According to Mr Matthias Rabe, Head of Research at Volkswagen AG, tests conducted by his
unit have shown that ESP can reduce the risk of a driver losing control by as much as 80 per-cent.
Systems currently being developed by Volkswagen include:
1. Automatic Emergency Brake Assist (ANB)
Work is ongoing
to refine the automatic emergency brake assist on the basis of engineering solutions already being applied in series
production. Vehicles featuring this system will be equipped with the radar sensor used in automatic distance control
systems. This sensor provides information on the distance to the vehicle ahead or to any obstacles. If the ANB concludes
that a braking manoeuvre could reduce the impact of an impending accident, it will initiate a hard stop in order to keep the
severity of the accident to a minimum.
2. Lane Departure Warning System (LDW)
analysis undertaken by the Volkswagen Accident Research Unit, 18 per cent of all accidents are attributable to drivers veering
off the road. To counteract this phenomenon, Volkswagen is close to completing a system called lane departure warning system
(LDW). This system uses in-car cameras to identify a vehicle's position in relation to lane boundary markings. If the vehicle
deviates too strongly from its ideal course of travel, the system sends an audible alarm to the driver.
3. Attention Control System
As 25 per cent of road
deaths can be attributed to the sleepiness of drivers, Volkswagen's attention control system will certainly save lives.
This system uses an in-car camera to eliminate the risk of driver inattentiveness by monitoring the driver's blinking movements.
If the system perceives the driver to be at risk of sleepiness, it sounds an audible alarm - alerting the driver to take a
rest or other measures (such as swapping drivers) to maintain safe travel.
4. Traffic Signs Recognition System
limits and other Government warning signs can often change during travel along any road. The traffic signs recognition
system being developed by Volkswagen Group Research will offer a new quality of comfort and safety in this area. The system
receives a signal from each applicable road sign and sends an audible or digital message to the driver.
5. Automatic Distance Control (ADC)
Already used in
Volkswagen's super-luxury Phaeton model, the system is activated when it detects the need for driver response (following the
vehicle in front too closely). The next generation ADC+F2S (F2S = follow to stop) will, if necessary, automatically
bring the vehicle to a full stop behind the vehicle ahead. It will also be possible to generate a collision warning, to brake
ahead of a stationary obstacle, to identify bends in the road and to perform light braking manoeuvres ahead of curves.
6. Integral Handling Control
The job of the integral
handling control system is to integrally regulate all active components (drive, brakes, steering, running gear) in any
given situation. What makes this system so revolutionary in comparison to today's active vehicle stability control systems
- primarily in borderline situations - is the continued optimization of vehicle handling (for example in an emergency situation,
it automatically swaps the suspension from 'comfort' to 'sports' setting for sharper response).
7. Assisted/Automatic Parking
A system developed by
Volkswagen Group Research allows the driver to choose between the assisted or automatic parking features. As
the vehicle passes a parking spot, the system ascertains the dimensions of the available space and of any obstacles. Once
it has evaluated this sensory data, it automatically calculates the ideal parking manoeuvre. The driver then presses the button
which activates the parking assistant and the car steers itself into the space in reverse gear.
8. Perception Of Vehicle Surroundings
This system provides
a holistic model of the vehicle environment using all available sensory data to record a complete take of all surroundings
(360 degrees). The data generated provides a picture of the ambient setting and the given situation in such a way that the
driver assistance systems will be able to identify any risks (eg blind spots before a lane change).
9. Enhanced Night Vision
A part of the perception
of vehicle surroundings system is the enhanced night vision system that uses a infa-red unit to identify pedestrians
or any other possible sources of hazard and informs the driver of their position, distance from the vehicle and potential
risk of a collision.