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Continental launches smart intersections with wrong-way driver detection in Michigan

The hub in Auburn Hills features a range of technology aimed at increasing safety at intersections, improving traffic flow and reducing pollution.

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The Continental Wrong-Way Driver system can be deployed on freeways and highways
The Continental Wrong-Way Driver system can be deployed on freeways and highways

Mobility technology company Continental has launched the Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

 

It features two intelligent intersections equipped with Continental’s short- and long-range sensors as well as a wrong-way driver detection system. Continental says the technology has the potential to improve traffic flow, reduce pollution and significantly increase safety by communicating hidden dangers to approaching connected vehicles and pedestrians.

 

Intelligent intersections

 

Continental wants to apply its years of experience in the automotive industry to make intersections more intelligent. Its sensors have been deployed on a number of vehicle platforms over the years, and enable functions like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection, forward collision warning, lane change assist and more.

 

In its current phase, the Hub is collecting non-personally identifiable information such as location and movement patterns about pedestrians, vehicles and other intersection-related activity to create an environment model needed for infrastructure-to-everything (I2X) communication.

 

The environment model provides information about traffic participants (for example, vehicles and vulnerable road users), traffic infrastructure, static objects and the overall road situation to connected vehicles.

 

“Auburn Hills is excited to partner with Continental to provide a real-world test location for smart city technology that will make the future of transportation safer not only for motorists, but cyclists, pedestrians, and other users within the confluence of the intersection,” said Kevin McDaniel, mayor of Auburn Hills.

 

“With a steady increase in pedestrian fatalities, and more than 43 per cent of crashes taking place at intersections, a focus on improved safety at city intersections has never been more important.”

 

In addition to the sensors, the Auburn Hills Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub also has a roadside unit and electronic control unit to process data and run the environment model and functions.

 

This combination can offer a number of benefits, like counting the number of vehicles entering and exiting a specific zone to communicate the number of available parking spaces to interested vehicles. By connecting to a traffic light controller, traffic flow can be better optimised, reducing not only congestion but also emissions from idling vehicles.

 

The solution makes it possible to warn an approaching vehicle about occluded hazards such as pedestrians. With additional analysis and artificial intelligence, intention prediction of pedestrians becomes possible, helping to alert drivers to pedestrians planning to cross even when the vehicle has the right of way.

 

“With about 80 per cent of Americans living in urban areas, a steady increase in pedestrian fatalities, and more than 43 per cent of crashes taking place at intersections, a focus on improved safety at city intersections has never been more important,” said Jeremy McClain, director of chassis and safety systems and technology for Continental, North America.

 

“By bringing together a variety of automotive-grade technologies, systems and expertise, Continental’s smart city technologies have the potential to greatly improve the lives of everyone who enters the area.”

 

Wrong-way driver detection

 

In addition, a wrong-way driver (WWD) detection system warns at-risk drivers in the vicinity of a driver heading the wrong way. It is designed for deployment on freeways and highways. On average there are approximately 295 crashes each year in the US relating to this issue, resulting in 389 fatalities – trending upwards over the last five years.

 

The system relies heavily on automotive-grade radar sensors to detect wrong-way drivers, using a combination of Continental sensors, connected-vehicle systems and a heatmapping algorithm.

 

The self-learning system automatically defines the roadways and directions of travel, then sends an alert via push notification to a mobile device or connected vehicle informing at-risk vehicles of the wrong-way driver’s location, speed and direction of travel.

 

“By bringing together a variety of automotive-grade technologies, systems and expertise, we have the potential to greatly improve the lives of everyone who enters the area.”

 

This technology is packaged into a fixed-mount I2X roadside unit with low power requirements, making it suitable for solar power. The WWD detection system would be installed on existing poles and gantries near the beginning of highway exit ramps, not only detecting and alerting of wrong-way drivers just entering the highway, but also those who may have entered several miles before.

 

While this information and alerts can be sent to authorities and at-risk drivers via I2V, V2X or SMS, it could potentially be integrated into widely used navigation apps, increasing penetration and effectiveness.

 

In addition to Auburn Hills, Continental also operates a similar smart city and transportation hub in Changsha, China, as well as intelligent intersections in Walnut Creek, California, and Columbus, Ohio, and plans to expand to other cities in the near future.

 

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