While driver and passenger safety is a hot topic within the realm of car design, Audi has begun a project that focuses on protecting people outside the car. It is a part of a four-year long research endeavor targeting traffic management and safety. The event has been named "AKTIV", based on a German phrase which means "Adaptive and Cooperative Technologies for Intelligent Traffic".

One of the goals of the AKTIV project is to develop active (makes sense, right?) safety systems with the hopes of avoiding potential collisions. As one might expect, the system would have the ability to intervene when it sensed an obstacle, or a lack of driver attention.

For the specific task of noticing pedestrians and cyclists (that the driver might not), Audi has developed a three dimensional imaging system and applied it to the front end of a test car. The "seeing vehicle", as it's called, constantly scans the oncoming terrain for potentially dangerous traffic situations. Then, it will communicate with autonomous braking and steering systems to attempt to avert an accident.

There is no definite word yet on how soon "seeing" Audis will hit the streets, but I don't foresee a terribly long wait. Expect similar projects from other manufacturers in the near future as well.

As a cyclist, I like the idea. Although there are plenty of bike-friendly towns here in the states, riding on the roads can be very scary. I might feel a bit more comfortable on the shoulder knowing at least the cars would notice me there.

[Audi]