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“Intelligent co-pilot” further increases bus and coach safety performance

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) researchers have developed a semiautonomous safety system, which gives full control of a vehicle to the driver until it detects that the vehicle is moving toward a hazard or obstacle, at which point it takes control of the vehicle and steers it to safety. When such a hazard is detected, the system will bring it back within a calculated safe zone, and then hand control back over to the driver.


The "intelligent co-pilot" system is the work of Sterling Anderson (PhD student at MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering) and Karl Iagnemma (principal research scientist at the Institute's Robotic Mobility Group). Instead of using a path-based control, such as self-parking systems where a driver allows the vehicle to take over control of the vehicle to safely park, the system uses selective enforcement of constraints.

The system has been through more than 1,200 trials in Michigan since September 2011.

Test drivers navigated the vehicle over the obstacle course, occasionally receiving instructions from the researchers to head straight for an obstruction and let the system kick in and do its stuff. There were still a few collisions recorded, however.

In its current configuration and on a challenging obstacle course, the system reduces the occurrence of accidents by over 75% while allowing the driver to decrease his or her course completion time by more than 30%.


To be continued as the researchers believe they can reduce the collision rate to zero with further technical upgrades. 



Discover more about the advances in bus and coach safety technology

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