Continental Develops Road Condition Detection Tech For Active Driving Safety

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Auburn Hills-based transportation technology company Continental today announced The Road Condition Observer, which uses sensors installed in the vehicle to alert drivers whether the road is dry, wet, snowy, or icy. The system’s algorithm detects typical features for the four different road conditions that might increase the likelihood of accidents.

“We use sensors available in the vehicle for the Road Condition Observer to gain information on the grip of the road surface,” says Jeremy McClain, head of systems and technology for chassis and safety at Continental North America. “This knowledge allows us to adjust the functions of assistance and automated driving systems to the current road conditions. For example, to prevent an impending collision, automatic emergency braking must be initiated earlier on a wet road than on a dry road.”

Currently, only a driver can assess the weather conditions and tailor their actions to the road conditions, but the Road Condition Observer aims to support the driver, allowing the assisted and automated driving systems to be capable of detecting adverse conditions and reacting in real time. McClain adds that this capability will become more important in the future, as automated driving also requires an accurate perception of road conditions.

The Road Condition Observer contributes to increasing active driver safety by combining information from sensors with knowledge of local and regional weather data, tire behavior, camera images from the front of the car, and other factors. During further development, the system’s information will flow into a comprehensive 360-degree environment model that is necessary for comprehensively understanding the overall driving scenario.

Though still in the research and development phase, Road Condition Observer is expected to come to market in the next five years.

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