Automotive Collision Avoidance System Field Operational Test Program


2.1 Program Review

General Motors Corporation and Delphi-Delco Electronics Systems have joined together to establish a Program Team in order to pursue the next logical progression in advancing the science of automotive safety in the field of Collision Warning (CW) systems. This Team will conduct a Field Operational Test (FOT) of an automotive collision warning system. The 59 month program will implement an extensive field operational test plan which is designed to assess the impact of an integrated Forward Collision Warning (FCW) system by giving volunteers from the general driving public unsupervised, unrestricted use of a host vehicle for a period of time. The integrated collision warning system will incorporate the functionality of both FCW and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). The FCW functionality will be effective in detecting, assessing, and alerting the driver of potential hazard conditions associated with rear-end crash events in the forward region of the Host vehicle. The ACC function will provide active vehicle actuation (brake and throttle control) in response to maintaining a specified longitudinal headway control. The Program Team will design and build ten passenger-style host vehicles, which are equipped with a collision warning vehicle package and an unobtrusive data acquisition system, which will support the field operational test.

The FOT is the natural next step of the technology development cycle that was initiated with the Automotive Collision Avoidance System (ACAS) Development Program. This program was sponsored through the Technology Reinvestment Project (TRP) and administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) between January 1995 and October 1997. Delphi-Delco Electronics Systems (DDE) and General Motors (GM) were major participants of the eight-member ACAS Consortium. Additionally, DDE led the ACAS Consortium. The primary objective of the ACAS Program was to accelerate the commercial availability of key collision warning countermeasure technologies, through either improved manufacturing processes or accelerated technology development activities. The next logical technical progression of the product development cycle was the upward integration of these ACAS-developed essential building blocks to form a complete seamless vehicle system that will be evaluated through a field operational test program.

It is apparent that the introduction of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) systems is imminent. Therefore, posing the notion of a field operational test of the collision warning technology at this time is apropos. An extensive, comprehensive collision warning FOT has never been undertaken in the United States (or anywhere else for that matter). As such, very few studies exist which adequately understand the relationship between system performance capability, user acceptance, and safety benefits based on involvement by the general driving public. This test program provides an ideal opportunity for the Government, industry, and ITS community to gain a more thorough understanding of the requirements, functions and societal impact of this technology. Additionally, any potential adverse operational and safety-related issues could be identified, analyzed, and addressed while the technology is still in the early stages of product development. This program has the opportunity to make a positive contribution in the development of this technology.

The derived benefits of performing a collision warning field operational test are many. At this time, credible collision warning related data is spotty, incomplete, and certainly not comprehensive. This program effort will be the first attempt to gather some of this much-needed data. The Government will gain some understanding in assessing the benefits of collision warning systems. Therefore, the benefits of a meaningful clinical examination of a collision warning system is expected to provide data regarding:

  1. Identifying any potential adverse operational and safety-related issues.
  2. Evaluating the maturity of the proposed system design synthesis and mechanization.
  3. Obtaining a broad range of market-based data with respect to system perception and appraisal provided by a diverse group of lay-person driving population, such as: perceived value, perceived cost, customer acceptance, product maturity, etc.
  4. Identifying potential key system features that may require an industry consensus or perhaps require adoption of standards and/or practices in order to expedite and facilitate system commercialization.
2.2 Objectives

The main mission of the ACAS/FOT Program is to identify key enabling technologies that can accelerate the development of a cohesive collision warning vehicle package which in turn can be used to assess the technological impact of a collision warning system through a comprehensive field operational test program. The performance of the cohesive collision warning vehicle package will be of sufficient fidelity, robustness, and maturity so that a meaningful field operational test program can be executed.

In support of this mission, other secondary goals and objectives are also specified which will provide focus to the technology design process and facilitate advancing the science of automotive safety. Specifically, they are to:

  1. Form a team that has demonstrated expertise and capability in the technology, manufacturing, and marketing of collision avoidance products.
  2. Leverage, capitalize, and exploit existing high-value developed portfolio of ACC and FCW technologies/component for implementation in the proposed ACAS/FOT Program. Of primary interest are the achieved successes from the initial ACAS Program and the recent development activities of other NHTSA/FHWA sponsored programs. These activities will provide value added program benefits by minimizing new learning curve experiences, preventing duplication of efforts, streamlining the system design process, and accelerating the activities of the proposed program.
  3. Incorporate human factors into the design process. Of primary interest are the successes achieved from the initial ACAS Program and the recent development activities of other NHTSA/FHWA sponsored programs of relevance.
  4. Utilize system engineering design procedures and practices to focus the accelerated development of a validated comprehensive collision warning system that is seamlessly upward integrated into the vehicle infrastructure. The tested and validated design will be used to produce a fleet of ten deployment vehicles for use in the field operational test program.
2.3 Approach

In support of achieving a successful field operational test, the ACAS/FOT Program has assembled a highly focused technical activity with the goal of developing a comprehensive FCW system that is seamlessly integrated into the vehicle infrastructure. The performance of the cohesive collision warning vehicle package will be of sufficient fidelity, robustness, and maturity so that a meaningful field operational test program can be executed. The FCW system will incorporate the combined ACC & rear-end CW functionality. The ACC feature will only be operational when engaged by the driver. On the other hand, the FCW feature will provide full-time operating functionality whenever the host vehicle is in use (above a certain minimum speed). This feature will be effective in detecting, assessing, and alerting the driver of potential hazard conditions associated with rear-end crash events in the forward region of the host vehicle. This will be accomplished by implementing an expandable system architecture that uses a combination of: (a) a long range forward radar-based sensor that is capable of detecting and tracking vehicular traffic, and (b) a forward vision-based sensor which detects and tracks lanes. The proposed program effort is focused on providing warnings to the driver, rather than taking active control of the vehicle.

Due to the complexity and breadth of the system goals, the on-going design process has heavily relied on using the established principles of system engineering as a framework to guide this highly focused deployment design effort. As such, the technical activities of the program can be grouped into four main activities within two phases. Phase I started immediately after program inception in, June 1999, and will last approximately 27 months. Phase II will start immediately after the end of Phase I. The objective is that the two program phases will be continuous with minimal disruption of program flow and continuity between them. Consequently, activities that enable the continuous workflow into Phase II will be initiated during Phase I. The program phases are summarized as:

Phase I
1. Development - The program will initially focus on a variety of activities associated with the enhancement, improvement, and maturation processes applied to existing FCW technologies/components that were developed during the ACAS Program, while accelerating the development of other key subsystems,
2. Integration - The refined FCW portfolio of technologies/components will be upwardly integrated into the vehicle platform infrastructure to form a comprehensive rear-end collision warning system,
Phase II
3. Deployment Fleet - The validated design will be used to build a deployment fleet of ten vehicles equipped with the system; and
4. Field Operational Test - The culmination of this program activity will be the design and implementation of the FOT plan. The deployment vehicle fleet will be used to collect valuable market research data in order to assess/validate the technology, product maturity, and general public perception.

A more detailed discussion of these program activities is provided by Task in the remaining portion of this report.

[1 Executive Summary]     [2 Introduction]     [3 System Integration]     [4 Forward Radar Sensor]
[5 Forward Vision Sensor]     [6 Brake Control System]     [7 Throttle Control System]
[8 Driver-Vehicle Interface]      [9 Data Fusion]     [10 Tracking & Identification]     [11 CW Function]   
 [12 ACC Function]     [13 Fleet Vehicle Build]      [14 Field Operational Test]
[Appendix A]     [Acronyms]