Electronics: Accident Detection, Touchscreen Steering, Virtual Dash
Automatic Accident Detection: There’s an App for That
A smartphone app capable of reducing traffic jams by up to 40% has been designed in a joint project by University of Bologna (eng.unibo.it) researchers and Toyota (toyota.com).
“Basically what we’re doing is placing cars in peer-to-peer communication,” says Bologna researcher Marco Roccetti. The app works with an on-board accelerometer, sensor, which detects sudden changes in speed such as that caused by a collision. If an accident occurs, it sends a signal to the smartphone, which in turn instantly sends an accident alarm warning message to cars 300 to 1,000 meters away. These cars will then relay the warning signal to vehicles that are further away from the collision. This allows drivers receiving the warning to avoid the accident area, thereby helping reduce traffic jams.
The Touch-Screen Steering Wheel
While plenty of cars have steering-wheel mounted controls for a variety of functions, researchers at the University of Stuttgart (uni-stuttgart.de), the University of Duisburg-Essen (uni-due.de) and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (dfki.de) are working on a system that is, in effect, like what the iPhone interface is like compared with a BlackBerry.
The steering wheel is made of an 11-mm thick acrylic and ringed with infrared LEDs. An infrared camera attaches to the bottom of the steering wheel to detect reflections when the screen is touched. Trial runs showed that drivers who used the wheel kept their attention on the road up to 77% more than those who use conventional steering wheels.