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Intelligent cars will produce safer drivers

Published Oct 08, 2010

New research at KTH shows that you can divide drivers into different groups through a system of measurement, those who are skilled and those who are not quite as skilled. This research may ultimately help the industry to create vehicles that are better suited to different drivers’ individual needs. The goal is that the vehicle will help drivers to become both safer on the roads and feel better behind the wheel.

“I have been studying people’s behaviour when they are sitting behind the wheel in a vehicle simulator, for example when they are negotiating a corner and doing evasive manoeuvres. The study shows that it is possible to see the difference between more or less capable drivers with objective measurements,” says Andreas Erséus, a former doctoral student at KTH.

The results make it interesting to conduct further research on the subject, Andrew Erséus adds. The possibility of identifying individual differences between various skilled drivers had not been determined from a scientific point of view when he began his research, and this opens up many new possibilities. Among other things, for the automotive industry, to create vehicles that provide various types of support for different drivers. It is much like cars that can save alternative seat positions for different drivers.

“Depending on the driver type, different types of support may be appropriate. Drivers can be adept at a particular type of manoeuvre or situation, but poor at others. When should the traction control system intervene? Sooner or later? Should the car have light steering or heavy steering? What gearing should the steering have? There are many different personal driving styles, and for this you need matching capabilities to handle the vehicle,” says Andreas Erséus.

The solution can be classified under the name “active systems”, and more of these will be coming onto the market. According to Andreas Erséus, there is a need.

“There is an interest from the automotive and heavy vehicle industries to offer the purchasers of vehicles different types of driver support. What they want to achieve is to make the driver feel safe and receive relevant feedback, and that the driver feels that the vehicle is doing as he or she wants it to do,” says Andreas Erséus.

He adds that vehicles today are often a compromise between the need for support and driveability. Having a car that is tailored to the individual should be able to increase traffic safety. Different drivers may need different settings to perform best. The experience is also important, says Andrew Erséus.

“A car with responsive steering may make some drivers feel nervous, this will mean that they are perhaps reluctant to use this setting, while others may feel that the car responds quickly. It is important to create a car designed for the person driving it, not a fictitious average person.

For more information, contact Andrew Erséus at 073-047 02 10.

Peter Larsson