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In its most basic form, active safety is about avoiding collisions and other incidents before they happen. Accidents can be possible to avoid by combining sensor technology, vehicle communication and on-board computers, enabling vehicles to communicate both with each other and with their surroundings. When cars get smarter they can compensate for the human factor that is the main cause of traffic accidents. For example, a car can be braked automatically if it approaches an obstacle at too high a speed, and automatic systems can take control if the car goes into a skid.</>
Active safety systems work in the opposite manner to passive safety systems, such as safety belts and airbags, as these have been developed to provide protection when a collision has already occurred.
In order to maintain and improve today’s safety, cars will increasingly be required to have active safety systems, although passive safety systems are not likely to disappear, but rather become a complement to the new technology.
AstaZero is owned by SP, Technical Research Institute of Sweden and Chalmers University of Technology and partners and contributory financiers are, AB Volvo, Volvo Car Corporation, Autoliv, Scania, The Swedish Transport Administration, Region Västra Götaland, Vinnova, Tillväxtverket and Test Site Sweden.
AstaZero’s customers include vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, universities, and technical institutes from around Europe.
No, AstaZero’s test site is also used for research and development. For example, customers have the opportunity to use AstaZero as an external development department for the whole R&D project.
In addition, the site can be used for demonstrations, product launches, conferences and corporate events.
Today’s vehicles contain electronic stability systems, for example ESP systems, and these as well as future systems need to be tested. Tests of these systems can include how a vehicle behaves in different situations, for example, how well it handles braking at different speeds or when cornering.
Human factors such as distractions or tiredness are the main reason behind most traffic accidents. Modern cars therefore have more and more electric controls, including warnings that alert the driver to the risk of an accident situation. Advanced systems that detect whether the driver is dozing off, stressed or under the influence of alcohol are under development. When developing these systems, one must take into account that people react differently to a specific situation, and extensive research and testing is therefore necessary to develop reliable systems.
At present there are a number of very advanced communication systems under development, and a European standard for the use of them is in the process of being agreed. The basis of these new systems is that they will make it possible both for vehicles to communicate with other vehicles and for vehicles and infrastructure to communicate with each other. The technology already exists theoretically in and with international satellite navigation systems like the US GPS, Russian GLONASS and the forthcoming European Galileo, but they have not yet been adapted to real life traffic scenarios.
In order to test and develop this technology, highly accurate positioning of test vehicles (initially via GPS and differential-GPS) is necessary. The positioning technology at AstaZero’s test site is able to ensure that different dummies, such as an elk, appear in front of the test vehicle at exactly the right moment.
New function systems built on a vehicle’s capacity to detect potential threats and make the correct decisions are being developed. Extensive tests of their different functions are therefore required.
To be able to test and develop these systems requires advanced dummies and true-to-life environments, as otherwise the smart systems will not experience the threats as real.
Communications technology within the area of active safety is about the vehicles’ capacity to communicate with each other (V2V) and their environment (V2I). Several advanced systems that make this technology possible are under development, and AstaZero will build up the flexibility in its infrastructure to allow testing of the most common of these systems.