Continental, TU Darmstadt Partner on ADAS City Assistant Platform

Automotive components supplier Continental and research university Technischen Universität (TU) Darmstadt have teamed up to develop a machine learning-based advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) called the City Assistant System.

The algorithms create a constantly updated driver profile based on a range of vehicle data, which helps drivers navigate specific urban driving situations, such as making a left turn, entering a roundabout or at right-before-left intersections.

This latest venture is the fourth stage of the PRORETA research project, which Continental and TU Darmstadt started in 2002. The goal is to use a range of technologies to help improve automobile safety.

In this fourth stage, the two organizations have developed and installed the platform on a test vehicle to further develop City Assistant’s capabilities.

The system makes a record of acceleration and braking patterns to give the algorithm an idea of what type of driver is behind the wheel.

This allows City Assistant to assign the driver to one or more clusters of driving profiles, offering more personalized driving recommendations.

“The driver has to develop confidence in the City Assistant System and its recommendations,” Ralph Lauxmann, head of systems and technology at Continental’s chassis and safety division, wrote in a statement. “Trust is the basis for the acceptance of advanced driver assistance systems, which in turn are an essential component of accident-free driving.”

One component of the platform is a camera-based system called Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), which automatically maps landmarks such as prominent points on buildings or infrastructure.

These landmarks are later recognized by the vehicle camera, allowing for a more accurate localization of the vehicle than is possible with GPS or navigation data.

In more dangerous driving situations, the system can alert the driver through signals, and City Assistant can also establish whether the driver has acted correctly and communicate its verdict to the driver.

The company noted that it would be possible for the City Assist platform to include an emergency brake function for the types of driving situations described.

“Assistance systems whose warnings are not perceived as useful are often viewed by motorists as annoying and are even ignored or switched off,” Dr. Karsten Michels, head of systems and technology at Continental’s interior division, noted in a statement. “This is why we are supporting the approach of an adaptive advanced driver assistance system featuring a special interaction concept.”

Continental is one of the founding members of the Networking for Autonomous Vehicles (NAV) Alliance, an organization made up of German auto giant Volkswagen, chipmaker Nvidia, Ethernet technology specialist Aquantia and engineering and electronics giant Bosch.

The alliance will create specifications for interoperability, security and reliability of the in-vehicle network, promote products and platforms adhering to the new specifications.

In July, Continental entered into a partnership with Argus Cyber Security and Elektrobit to offer security and over-the-air (OTA) software updates that will be pre-integrated into its telematics units, infotainment systems, gateways and other components.

In May, the company announced its engineers are now driving their test vehicles on autobahns (highways) in Lower Saxony in Germany. The planned routes include sections of the country’s famed autobahn — where speed limits don’t exist — but also highways and routes through the city for additional testing.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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