Driver assistance systems will become dramatically more important in the future. Audi engineers are working on a wide variety of solutions intended to make using the car even more convenient and safer. The new systems strive to make things even easier for the driver and to prevent, or at least mitigate the severity of, accidents.
Audi is developing innovative solutions involving sensors, their control and the interaction between the modules. The networking of the car with the infrastructure and other traffic participants, which at Audi falls under the term “Audi connect,” is also very important here. Audi’s ultimate goal is a car that is so intelligent that it can avoid accidents entirely.
Traffic jam assistant
The traffic jam assistant is a technology that can assume some duties from the driver when driving is not a whole lot of fun, such as in slow-moving traffic. At speeds between zero and 60 km/h (37.28 mph), the car helps with steering within certain limits. It also accelerates and brakes autonomously. The traffic jam assistant can be used both on the highway and in town, provided that the course of the road is not too complex.
It is based on the adaptive cruise control with stop & go function, with the addition of new components for lateral guidance. Three sensor systems work closely together. Two next-generation radar sensors cover wedge-shaped fields, each with a 21-degree angle of view and up to 250 meters (820.21 ft) long. A wide-angle video camera monitors the lane markings, and it can also detect objects such as other vehicles, pedestrians and guardrails.
Eight ultrasonic sensors monitor the zones immediately to the front and at the corners of the car. Their data are used primarily to maintain safety intervals and to supplement the information from the camera.
If ACC stop & go is turned on, the traffic jam assistant continuously analyzes the speed of the car and that of other surrounding vehicles. The function is available when traveling at a speed of less than 60 km/h (37.28 mph) and the data indicate a traffic jam. If the driver then pushes a button to activate the function, the traffic jam assistant takes over.
The corridor in which the traffic jam assistant moves the car is significantly wider than the lane between the lines, which allows for a certain offset relative to the car ahead. If it is necessary to make room for emergency vehicles or to navigate around an obstacle, the system follows the car ahead. This is where one of the radar sensor’s strengths comes into play: It not only detects the car immediately ahead, but also additional cars in front of that and can use these data to compute a column path. The traffic jam assistant behaves exactly like the ACC stop & go when accelerating and braking, and also reacts to cars moving in or out of the lane.
Automatic full braking
Many Audi vehicles can already brake automatically the last few meters before an impending collision if the driver himself is no longer capable of intervening. Audi is developing this function further, both for the city (pre sense city) and for interurban traffic.
pre sense city
Automatic full braking in city traffic is based on an innovative compact sensor technology, in whose basic development Audi played a significant role some years ago. The PMD sensor (PMD = photonic mixing device) is a small chip that can measure distances in three dimensions with greater precision than conventional sensor systems.
PMD technology, which is already established in entertainment electronics, offers more than just packaging advantages over other sensor systems. Photo mixing devices can detect both moving and stationary targets, and they also work in the dark, in the rain and in bright sunshine.
In the event of an impending rear-end collision with the car ahead at speeds up to 65 km/h (40.39 mph), Pre sense city warns the driver by briefly applying the brakes. If the driver does not react, the system applies the brakes with full power roughly one second before impact, reducing the collision speed by as much as 30 km/h (18.64 mph).
Another important function of pre sense city is the predictive protection of pedestrians, which the PMD sensor can detect at distances of up to 20 meters (65.62 ft). When the sensor reports a precarious situation, such as a pedestrian stepping onto the road, the system decides whether full braking is necessary.
If yes, full braking ideally would begin roughly one second before impact in this case, too. The maximum possible reduction of speed by 30 km/h (18.64 mph) means that in some cases the car can come to stop in time. The predictive pre sense technology provides good protection for pedestrians and cyclists. The intelligent system can contribute significantly to passenger protection in critical situations by rapidly reducing speed.
Active emergency braking
Audi is developing another version of the pre sense system for automatic full braking at speeds above 65 km/h (40.39 mph). Its centerpiece is a laser scanner offering the advantages of even greater range, a wide field of view and greater precision.
The laser uses its wide field of view to also scan the areas to the front and side of the vehicles, and can thus also detect buildings and other development on the side of the ride. If there is an obstacle in front of the vehicle, such as the end of a traffic jam, the system can assess whether the driver can still take evasive action.
If evasive action is no longer possible, a timely warning is provided and automatic full braking initiated, if warranted. Even if the driver is unable to react himself due to a medical emergency, for example, this procedure enables the automatic and significant reduction of higher speeds and can reduce the severity of the accident dramatically. Braking to avoid accidents is thus possible even from high initial speeds in selected scenarios.
Active seatbelt buckle
Audi is also constantly refining the restraint systems on board its vehicles. One future innovation could be active seatbelt buckles for the rear passengers that are moved by small electric motors.
When the back door is opened, the active seatbelt buckle moves upward a few centimeters to make it easier for the passenger to buckle up. It then moves back to its starting position. In the event of an impending collision, the buckle moves downward a bit, tensioning the belt. This action is reversible.
Audi will network the adaptive restraint system more tightly with the new assistance technologies in general. Forward-looking sensors such as the PM diodes can usually identify an impending collision a few seconds before it occurs while also estimating the speed and size of the other vehicle. Activation of the adaptive belt force limiters and the adaptive front airbags is tailored to this information, enabling both systems to protect passengers better than is the case today.
Many traffic accidents occur at intersections and junctions – often with serious consequences. The side-impact collision is the second most common cause of traffic deaths in Europe today. Audi is developing an intersection assistant to mitigate these dangers. The goal is to prevent collisions whenever possible or to at least mitigate their consequences.
The intersection assistant uses two radar sensors and a video camera with a wide-angle lens to scan the areas to the front and sides of the vehicle. The radar sensor data play the primary role; the camera provides reference data. If the sensors detect a vehicle approaching from the side, the system warns and informs the driver in a number of stages.
Audi is exploring a second variant as an extension of the sensor-supported intersection assistant. It is based on car-to-x communication, in this case on radio contact between the two vehicles potentially involved in the accident. At intersections identified as accident hot spots, a modem that reports the status of the traffic light would be another possibility. Data transfer would be via radio according to the Automotive WLAN (WLAN 802.11p) standard.
Car-to-x technology, whose widespread use is still far in the future, offers numerous advantages. It also works at intersections where the sensors’ sight is impaired. It can cover great distances and transmit vehicle-specific information. This would enable the deployment of the airbag to be adapted specifically to the mass of the other vehicle, for example. In combination with the onboard sensors, car-to-x technology can substantially enhance the potential level of protection.
Tight perpendicular parking spaces; garages in which bicycles are also parked – parking spaces are often so tight that the driver often struggles to get out of the car, and there may also be a risk of door damage. A future Audi assistance system, the parking pilot, could solve these problems.
With the technology in Audi prototypes, the driver can exit the car outside the garage and issue to command for the car to park itself from outside the vehicle using the radio key or a smartphone. With the help of its ultrasonic sensors, the car drives into the parking space or the garage, stopping immediately if it detects an obstacle. Upon reaching its final position, it shuts off the engine, deactivates the ignition and locks the doors. Finally, it sends a confirmation to the driver.
Backing out of parking spaces warning system
Backing out of a horizontal parking space can often be tricky. Drivers can’t see the traffic flowing behind them and often are forced to cautiously “feel” their way onto the road. Another future solution, the backing out of parking spaces warning system, makes this process easier.
The system uses the two Audi side assist radar sensors at the rear of the car. They measure and interpret the distance, the speed and the likely path of vehicles detected in cross-traffic and inform the driver of collision risks predicted by the system.
Warning when opening the door
The exit warning system also uses the Audi side assist radar sensors. It is a big help when exiting the vehicle in situations with limited visibility. If the driver or a passenger tries to open the door, the sensors check whether another vehicle or bicyclist is approaching from the rear from a dangerous distance and at a critical speed.
The warning in the event that such a hazard is detected could be a bright signal light in the door, accompanied by an acoustic signal. Also under investigation are haptic warnings that inform the vehicle occupants of the hazard while opening the door.
Trailer maneuvering assistant
The trailer maneuvering assistant is a future technology that helps the driver while backing up with a trailer. The system steers automatically, relieving the driver of the burden of the many steering corrections often necessary in this situation.
The system, which uses a sensor in the trailer hitch, steers the vehicle so that the pivot angle between the tow vehicle and the trailer remains stable. The driver does not use the steering wheel to indicate the desired turn-in, but rather the large rotary knob of the MMI control system.
The trailer maneuvering assistant works within a defined speed range and can prevent impending collisions of the vehicle with the trailer by limiting the maximum permissible pivot angle. It adjusts automatically to trailers of different sizes.
The equipment and data specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.