All-round safety in car

Mar 06, 2008
All-round safety in car
Things can get tight after a lateral collision – intelligent side-impact protection prevents the worst. © Faurecia

A car body that thinks intelligently and protects its occupants at the crucial moment has been every driver’s dream for a long time. Research scientists in an EU project have developed an intelligent side-impact protection system that dramatically reduces the risk of injury.

One more second until collision. The cameras integrated in the doors have long identified the car that will cause the accident. Radar sensors in the car wings measure how far away the other car still is. 200 milliseconds before the crash, the new side-impact protection system is activated. The occupants are reliably protected at the crucial moment.

The intelligent side-impact protection system is a product of the EU project APROSYS – short for Advanced Protection Systems. The technology was developed by Fraunhofer researchers in cooperation with various universities, car manufacturers and suppliers.

“Our goal was to improve the active crash safety of motor vehicles – that is, to adapt the technical properties of the car body in such a way that it absorbs energy at the crucial moment and thus protects the occupants,” says project manager Björn Seipel of the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF.

But how do you get the car body to change its properties? And how does the car know when its occupants need protection? The researchers have devised a kind of sixth sense for cars that anticipates accidents and emits the necessary impulse to activate the side-impact protection system.

Stereo cameras and radar sensors continually scan the environment, and a central computer analyzes the data. “During the journey, the system has to distinguish moving objects – meaning other cars that could potentially cause an accident – from stationary objects such as houses or trees,” explains Dr. Dieter Willersinn of the Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing IITB.

His team has developed a software program capable of predicting a lateral collision just in time – about 200 milliseconds before the crash. The impulse from the central computer releases a surge of electricity that heats a wire made of a shape memory alloy. This wire is the actual trigger.

“We opted for this solution because it is faster than any conventional solenoid switch,” says Seipel. The heat bends the wire, which then releases a spring. The spring slackens and pushes a steel bolt, which is integrated in the seat, towards the door. At the same time a stable metal body in the door is brought into position to support the steel bolt.

“The system of the bolt and the metal box stabilizes the car door and absorbs energy on collision,” explains Seipel. To prove that the new side-impact protection system actually works in a real crash situation, he will carry out a crash test in Spain on March 7. The passenger cell will be on display at the Hannover trade fair on April 21 through 25.

Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Explore further: Faradair team determined to make hybrid BEHA fly

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Form Devices team designs Point as a house sitter

3 hours ago

A Scandinavian team "with an international outlook" and good eye for electronics, software and design aims to reach success with what they characterize as "a softer take" on home security. Their device is ...

Man pleads guilty in New York cybercrime case

5 hours ago

A California man has pleaded guilty in New York City for his role marketing malware that federal authorities say infected more than a half-million computers worldwide.

NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

14 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA's best view of Jupiter's ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo ...

Dish restores Turner channels to lineup

15 hours ago

Turner Broadcasting channels such as Cartoon Network and CNN are back on the Dish network after being dropped from the satellite TV provider's lineup during contract talks.

Recommended for you

Faradair team determined to make hybrid BEHA fly

15 hours ago

Aiming to transform their concept into a real success, the Faradair team behind a six-seat Bio-Electric-Hybrid-Aircraft (BEHA) have taken this hybrid aircraft project into a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. ...

How polymer banknotes were invented

Nov 26, 2014

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and CSIRO's 20-year "bank project" resulted in the introduction of the polymer banknote – the first ever of its kind, and the most secure form of currency in the world. ...

Enabling the hearing impaired to locate human speakers

Nov 26, 2014

New wireless microphones systems developed at EPFL should allow the hearing impaired to aurally identify, even with closed eyes, the location of the person speaking. This new technology will be used in classrooms ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

superhuman
not rated yet Mar 06, 2008
>A car body that thinks intelligently
And self-conscious of course.

Intelligence can only be meaningfully attributed to certain animals. Everyone who thinks otherwise is as intelligent as that car body.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.