The development of safety features has been increasingly focused toward active vehicle intervention during an emergency. Active braking, lane departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control are all features that allow the vehicle to share the burden of controlled driving. Continental has announced a new strategy that involves actively maneuvering around an obstacle, rather than stopping before it.

Continental's Emergency Steer Assist

Continental's Emergency Steer Assist

Emergency Steer Assist will decide whether or not the vehicle can be slowed or stopped in time. If there's not enough space to stop, it will attempt to avoid a collision by helping the driver safely steer around it instead. The detection system incorporates video cameras and radar sensors to generate a picture of its surroundings.

The responsibility is ultimately in the hands of the driver (pun intended), and the role of Steer Assist is to help maintain control of the car by tweaking the driver's inputs. It will provide torque to the steering wheel, emphasizing smooth movements. If it senses that the steering input was too abrupt, it will make adjustments to guide the driver's movements, or limit the travel of the wheel in either direction.

Safety assist systems can benefit from being integrated with other existing technologies as well. For example, when the system detects an obstacle, it could prepare the vehicle to maintain grip and control during evasive maneuvers by adjusting active stabilization and damper settings (if equipped). In this case, comfort would be sacrificed to improve handling.

Active Safety systems continue to add science to the driving equation. I don't see any harm in using technology to increase our chances of surviving our daily commutes, as long as drivers don't treat it as a substitute for common sense. I'd also like to know, what happens if there is a car in the lane next to you? Can Continental's system prevent you from steering into it? I'll have to assume they have thought of that too.

[Continental via autoblog]