Minnesota Department of Transportation
This report describes the development of technologies that safely steer a vehicle if the vehicle's driver becomes incapacitated. A Differential Global Positioning System (GPS) senses the vehicle's position and velocity. This method seems to offer adequate precision with a low-enough infrastructure cost to make the system practical in most rural settings. Researchers used a heavy vehicle -- a class 8 truck tractor -- partly because of the most favorable economics associated with installation of this type of system on a commercial vehicle, and partly because of the commercial driver's higher exposure to conditions that engender drowsy driving. This research examines two potential applications of the steering, throttle, and brake controllers. The first, a virtual rumble strip, vibrates the wheel whenever the vehicle drifts out of its lane. The second, a system that monitors driver steering performance, senses the erratic steering that presages loss of consciousness and then takes control of the vehicle, pulling it over to a safe stop.
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