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[May 11, 2014]
Autopilot plan to cut road accidents [National, The (United Arab Emirates)]
(National, The (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) DUBAI // Road-safety product company Autograde is hoping to make autopilot technology that helps prevent crashes a universal feature on cars.
Known in the industry as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure (or V2X) technology, it allows cars to communicate with other vehicles equipped with similar technology and motorway infrastructure such as traffic lights.
"The V2X technology creates a safer environment, improved driver awareness against potential collisions and eventually leads to autonomous driving," said Nabil Al Yafie, the Dubai company's chief operating officer.
"The idea is to minimise human interaction to as little as possible. We are now in the final testing stages, and we plan to submit a proposal on the new technology to the Ministry of Interior within the coming months." Autograde – which specialises in technology research, product development and manufacturing services – wants to introduce automated driving throughout the UAE.
At last month's UITP Mena Transport Congress and Exhibition in Dubai, Autograde unveiled its plans to introduce the V2X technology. Other planned projects include automated parking systems and radio frequency identification technology on licence plates.
Autograde plans to conduct road tests for the V2X technology in the UAE. It will initially be on a pilot basis in an area such as Zabeel in Dubai, where the infrastructure is suitable for trials, before introducing the technology to other areas.
Currently, the car systems available in the UAE are autonomous or vehicle-based, according to Glenn Havinoviski, a transport specialist in Abu Dhabi.
"Many vehicle manufacturers have systems that automatically detect, with radar or infrared sensors, a vehicle in front of them or to the side, as well as the edge of a pavement," he said.
"The systems may take the form of an 'adaptive cruise control' available from Mercedes that adjusts the vehicle's speed based on the speed [of the vehicle in front] and required safe distance …. as well as the 'lane departure warning' systems, which provide a warning vibration, chime or light when a vehicle is wandering out of a travel lane.
"Several car makers such as Toyota, Ford and Audi have made automated parking systems available in their vehicles, where the vehicle electronically situates itself in a parking space," said Mr Havinoviski, an associate vice president of transport systems at Iteris, a US traffic-management company.
"Obviously, the next step beyond this is communication between the vehicles, as well as between the vehicles and the roadside infrastructure, enabling real-time information about how fast other vehicles are travelling, [as well as] regulatory information or warning information." The end result, he said, was a reduction in collisions.
A simple application of this technology is that it indicates any vehicle within a 100-metre radius, giving the driver enough time to react when a vehicle suddenly appears from nowhere, according to Mr Al Yafie.
"V2X communication also holds the key for government authorities to smoothen traffic by monitoring vehicle flow, red-light violations, hit-and-run cases, among others," he said.
Any technology that reduces the amount of human error could help reduce traffic accidents, said Dino Kalivas, the director of training at Emirates Driving Company.
"The human being, regardless of technology applied, is the weakest link in road safety.
"The same effort that goes into developing new technology should be applied in developing safe drivers," he said.
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