BMW Group Research and Technology, in partnership with the main German research institutes, has currently developed a system that can assist motorists handle pedestrians that suddenly appear from between two parked cars. AMULETT, the name of the research project which is a German acronym for 'Active mobile accident avoidance and mitigation of accident effects through cooperative data acquisition and tracking technology' has come up with what they call a Car-2-X Communication. The system involves vehicles communicating with radio transponders that are carried by people for personal safety purposes.
The sensor systems between the car and the transponder reveal and recognize even pedestrians that are hidden from view. The three-year venture has been funded by the Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology. The other participants include Continental Safety Engineering International GmbH, the Fraunhofer Institute for Ingtegrated Circuits, the Institute for High Frequency Engineering at Munich's Technical University, and ZENTEC GmbH.
At the conclusion of the project, set on May 6 this year, the results of AMULETT will be publicly unveiled. The project, which was targeted at enhancing the safety of pedestrians, involved the investigation of the possibilities of Car-2-X Communication. With this in mind the researchers linked up independent on-board systems for driving environment evaluation with interface between the car and a transponder carried by a person on the road for personal safety purposes.
Aided by this cooperative sensor technology, the car sends and receives data with the Amulett, which works like a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and could be built into common things like schoolbag or a mobile phone in the near future.
When the transponder receives an interrogation signal from the vehicle it immediately transmits an identification message which enables its position to be locked on and identify the carrier as a road user who is at risk. The system works effectively even when the person carrying the transponder is not visible from the driver at the moment of danger. To prevent the carrier being linked to a specific transponder, in compliance with data protection laws, the Amulett identifies itself through a code that is randomly changing.
This will guarantee that the user's identity is kept anonymous while maintaining the sensor's data prediction uncompromised. Electromagnetic waves are identified by the test car via a multi-antenna system in the frequency range of 2.4 GHz, with a signal processing unit determining the angle of arrival and identification. The signal's travel time between interrogation from the car and response from the transponder determines the distance of the pedestrian.
Based on the data received, the system calculates the level of danger and alerts the driver correspondingly. If the driver, for whatever reason, fails to respond, extra precautionary measures can be employed to prevent the impending accident from happening or minimizing its consequences. Thus, emergency braking might find its way into this system before long.
With the Amulett, pedestrian-vehicle data has reached a new level of precision and brings the issue of traffic safety more than a step forward. The current system in the BMW Group Research and Technology test vehicle provides the driver feedback through a head-up display which was designed so that the driver is not alarmed, but can make intuitive interpretations leading to appropriate actions. The focus of ongoing research is how to exclude false alarms generated by carriers inside an oncoming car or with the ability of the system to handle multiple carriers like in city driving situations.