Washington, November 4 : Computer scientists in Germany have written a piece of software that can one day enable cars to coordinate maneuvers together in dangerous situations, such as the falling over of a road construction or a sudden emergence of a child in front of the vehicle.
Thomas Batz, who developed the software together with his colleagues at the Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing IITB in Karlsruhe and at Karlsruhe University, says that applying the brakes or swerving the car to avoid such a situation generally proves difficult because of the presence of heavy traffic on the neighboring lanes.
He says that the new software program can help several cars to co-ordinate their movements together, and, thus, help avoid accidents.
The researcher says that the vehicles form a network via car-to-car communication and communicate automatically.
"In dangerous situations, the cars can independently perform coordinated maneuvers without their drivers having to intervene. In this way, they can quickly and safely avoid one another," says Batz.
He has revealed that for creating such a system, the members of his team are making use of cognitive automobiles that are autonomously driven for short periods of time.
The researcher says that the vehicles are equipped with car-to-car communication and integrated sensors like cameras, GPS, and radar systems, so that they can autonomously recognize their surroundings and avoid any potential obstacles.
Such groups are made up of cars that are traveling in the same direction, and are in radio range of one another. The vehicles constantly re-group because of their speeds and destinations.
A car designated as the group coordinator gathers the information from all the other cars about their positions and driving situations, and draws up a common relevant picture of the group's situation.
Sudden dangers are recognized not only by the car directly affected, but also by the group coordinator.
If the car in question can neither brake nor swerve, the group coordinator orders both vehicles to swerve to the right in a coordinated maneuver in order to avoid an accident and a collision with each other.
The system is currently under development. Its group formation function has already been implemented.
The research team is trying to improve its ability to recognize and assess dangerous situations, and to choose appropriate driving maneuvers.