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AI Transportation Technology

Ford System Will Warn, Correct Lane-Drifting Drivers 469

PolygamousRanchKid writes "Ford says its new Fusion, which will debut at the North American International Auto Show in a couple weeks, will be the first mainstream midsize sedan in North America to offer a lane departure system. Lane departure systems are aimed at warning drivers, especially drowsy ones, if their vehicles wander out of their lane. A digital camera mounted on the windshield ahead of the rear-view mirror keeps a watch. The system not only causes the steering wheel to vibrate if it senses an unintentional lane departure, it will also steer the car back into the right lane. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes occur every year as a result of drowsy drivers, leading to 1,500 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses." I'd just like to know how hard the AI will fight if it misinterprets a driver's intentional lane change.
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Ford System Will Warn, Correct Lane-Drifting Drivers

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  • by EngrBohn ( 5364 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:35PM (#38551340)

    Personally, I'd guess that a turn signal will convince the AI to allow an intentional lane change.

    • by newcastlejon ( 1483695 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:38PM (#38551372)

      I wonder if this system could be integrated with parking sensors, to prevent some instances of lane-changing when there's another vehicle in the blind spot.

      re: indicators, I welcome anything that even gently enforces their use.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        re: indicators, I welcome anything that even gently enforces their use.

        As do I. All these nut bags that refuse to use their signals are a danger on the road.

        • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:50PM (#38551470)

          As do I. All these nut bags that refuse to use their signals are a danger on the road.

          Turn signals are dangerous. They provide your adversaries with advance notice of your intention; it's much better to take them by surprise. (I came to understand this when I lived in Boston.)

          • One is trying to do a right hand turn onto a four lane road. The car to your left has his right turn signal on. Do you assume the car is going to turn and proceed or do you assume that the car made a lane change and just forgot to turn the signal off? Your are in the left hand lane of a two lane freeway the car ahead of you is going 15 mph below the speed limit and has its right hand turn signal on. Do you wait to see if the car is actually going to change lanes or do you go to the right hand lane and p
            • by robi5 ( 1261542 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @06:36PM (#38552344)

              so if there are no cars that could use my signal than I will not turn it on.

              You should also signal to those drivers you're not aware of. Maybe traffic code says things for a reason. But if it's "invent your own traffic rules" day, then I guess anything goes :-)

            • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @07:20PM (#38552666)

              if there are no cars that could use my signal than I will not turn it on.

              Ok, so what if there are cars that you don't see? Or maybe you see other cars but you think they don't care about your signal. What gives you the right to decide for them whether or not they want to see your turn signal?

              The most important reason to ALWAYS use your turn signal -- even if nobody is around -- is just to form a solid habit. So much so that it should feel strange to turn or change lanes without using your turn signal. If you have this solid habit of using your turn signals every time, you don't need to worry about analyzing every situation to determine who may or may not need to see your turn signals (and sometimes be wrong) and concentrate on the parts of driving that actually do need your brainpower. Just do it.

              If you're worried about leaving the signal on afterwards, maybe you should be paying more attention to your driving.

            • by gumpish ( 682245 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @12:56AM (#38554360) Journal

              if there are no cars that could use my signal than I will not turn it on.

              You know why motorcycles are dangerous? It's because of people who assume they know what's in (or not in) their blind spot and can't be bothered to signal, let alone actually do a head check.

              How about checking your pretense to omniscience at the door and just fucking signalling?


          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @06:06PM (#38552088)

            Some car manufacturers don't put turn signals on their vehicles. BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes, and Cadillac come to mind. Most of these cars don't seem to have them built-in. But I do believe there is an aftermarket turn signal package because a few (very few) do have signals.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Big problem in NJ then, where lane changes are apparently required every 100ft or so, and signal use is strictly prohibited.

    • by Macman408 ( 1308925 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:56PM (#38551514)

      In my car, yes, that is the case. Also, the torque applied to the steering wheel to keep you in your lane is pretty minimal; even grandma would have no trouble overpowering the motor to, say, make an emergency lane change to avoid an accident.

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:03PM (#38551576) Journal
      I came here to say the exact same thing, the post is written in the window waiting for a submit button-press,

      Then I realized that in some emergency situations, a lane change is absolutely required. Vibrating the steering wheel is ok, but if it's forcing you to move back to your lane, then this could cause accidents.
      • by dr2chase ( 653338 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @06:14PM (#38552142) Homepage

        "Some emergency situations" occur how often? No doubt, for every safety feature on a car there is some fringe case that it makes worse, but the net is (usually) better. What if you *needed* to lock up your brakes and slam the car into a skid, and the ABS prevented it? But overall, ABS is a good thing. We (humans) seem easily distracted by "fault", "intent", and "blame", when it would make a lot more sense to just try to minimize the body count.

      • According to Oregon law, you're never supposed to veer out of your lane to avoid an accident, you're supposed to maintain enough space in front and behind that you can stay in your own lane while making an emergency stop.

        It is way more important to save 7 people's lives by staying in your lane and not creating a pile up, than it is you'll actually save that squirrel's life, or to prevent a fender-bender.

    • I'm sorry. I can't do that, Dave.

  • What will it do in the winter when the clear tire tracks that are safe to follow aren't necessarily perfectly between the lines?

    • Then the camera won't be able to see the lines, now will it?
      • Re:Winter (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tipo159 ( 1151047 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:53PM (#38551486)

        Then the camera won't be able to see the lines, now will it?

        Do you spend much time driving in winter conditions? Sometimes two lanes in the direction of travel end up effectively reduced to one with the painted lane divider line clearly visible in the middle of the lane. Around curves, the position of the painted lane divider line will shift relative to the track of the lane of travel.

        I can't imagine that there won't be a disable button for this feature for stuff like winter driving.

    • by ae1294 ( 1547521 )

      I wonder when the drunk driving patch will come out. Basically that's what ford is doing with this sort of system. If you can't stay awake while behind the wheel your ass shouldn't be driving.

  • My Prius (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:38PM (#38551374)

    already has Lane Keep Assist. It doesn't steer me back into the lane, but it does give me an annoying beep when it senses me leaving the lane. Personally, I'd much rather have my car alert me about this stuff and let me control the vehicle rather than have the vehicle do the stuff on its own.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:39PM (#38551378)

    In works zones some times you see lines all over the place will the AI be smart and auto trun off when it sees that?

    Also on new pavement you see the temp lines that may not be picked up the AI.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by robi5 ( 1261542 )

      In works zones some times you see lines all over the place will the AI be smart and auto trun off when it sees that?

      The developers must have not thought of that, and just assumed that their cars will be driven in perfect worlds. Probably whatever output the AI gives will be used to turn the wheels, irrespective of confidence measures, speed, driver intention etc. The developers should have clearly come here to Slashdot first, asking for advice.

    • by jamesh ( 87723 )

      I've wondered about this... i'm sure they have a solution but i'd like to know more about it.

      The one that bugs me is where they've altered the road and painted over the old lines in black paint and painted on new lines. Under some circumstances (wet road and low sun) the paint on the old lines becomes quite reflective because it's smooth (new paint on old paint makes it more level) and makes the old lines look white while the new lines are almost invisible.

      I guess that's a corner case though... the computer

    • by RandyOo ( 61821 )

      I have a vehicle with a similar system: a European Honda Accord with LKAS (Lane-Keeping Assist System).

      It's very particular about the lines being painted a specific way, and if the lane markings don't meet the spec, the system stays in standby. That said, it was able to cope with the yellow work-zone lane markings on the Autobahn, which seem to take priority over the normal ones.

    • by doon ( 23278 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @08:37PM (#38553200) Homepage

      I've only had the system in my volvo get confused a couple of times in work zones. I haven't figured out the exact combination that triggers it, but when you have temp lines that got over other lines gradually that seems to confuse it a bit. but if the lines are at more severe angles to each other it seems to handle it just fine.

  • by MollyB ( 162595 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:42PM (#38551400) Journal

    The idea that we should promote drowsy driving by making it (hypothetically) less fatal to do so is laughably absurd. Sometimes a driver needs to swerve to miss an accident occurring--no time to signal, so into the pileup we go? Hmm...

    • I would totally agree with you if said drivers only killed them selves off. Be gone with the idiots they are only dumbing down the human population as a whole. Unfortunately they have a habit of taking those with them who only had the misfortune of being in close proximity of the idiot.
    • I would agree with you, but I'm not sure that people who drive while drowsy are thinking rationally. It's something I avoid, but it's not always obvious until it's too late. And figuring out where exactly the line is isn't always easy. Really any technology that can prevent a drowsy driver from killing other people is something worth considering.

      But, more than that, what needs to happen is for the consequences of drunk or drowsy driving to be aligned with similarly dangerous behavior out of the car. Around

    • by Delarth799 ( 1839672 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:13PM (#38551680)
      You fail to realize a great number of things and assume some really crazy ones. Your assuming the AI will take complete control of the steering and apply massive force not allowing for change. When in reality it will be almost certainly be a very gentle steer since it doesn't take much to correct some drifting. Also when you drift your not using your steering wheel to do it. Cars without perfectly aligned wheels drift one way or the other and slight curves in the road and other factors will also cause slight drifts as well, that's why you keep a hand on the wheel at all times. When you INTEND or NEED to change lanes you actually use the steering wheel so the people who designed this, which most people here seem to think are complete morons, probably were smart enough to design the AI so an application of a certain amount of turning power to one degree or another will stop it from vibrating and not trying to steer you back.
    • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Saturday December 31, 2011 @07:11PM (#38552602)

      The idea that we should promote drowsy driving by making it (hypothetically) less fatal to do so is laughably absurd. Sometimes a driver needs to swerve to miss an accident occurring--no time to signal, so into the pileup we go? Hmm...

      From the linked story, (which you clearly didn't read):

      When the system detects the car is approaching the edge of the lane without a turn signal activated, the lane marker in the icon turns yellow and the steering wheel vibrates to simulate driving over rumble strips. If the driver doesn't respond and continues to drift, the lane icon turns red and EPAS will nudge the steering and the vehicle back toward the center of the lane. If the car continues to drift, the vibration is added again along with the nudge. The driver can overcome assistance and vibration at any time by turning the steering wheel, accelerating or braking.

      The return to lane feature only works if you start to drift into the other lane, not if you actively turn into the other lane, or supply any other common control input to let the system know you are in fact paying attention.

      Its not too hard to distinguish an alert driver at the wheel from someone nodding off, because a normal driver supplies 10 to 30 small control movements to the steering wheel per minute (Steering Reversal Rate), and these are typically Greater than 2 degrees and less than 6 degrees regardless of road curvature or lack there of. Once this rate falls to less than 5 reversals per minute, the car's computer can assume from this single measurement alone that the driver is getting drowsy, and when there are almost no reversals at all, that the driver has fallen asleep.

      So the mere presence of control frequent movements on the wheel would sufficient to distinguish an intentional lane cross from an unintentional one.

      There is a large amount of research already available on the web about his stuff. Google steering wheel reversal rate. This stuff has been known and measured for decades.

  • Bad timing for that feature, after Toyotos troubles. People now know that steering wheels, accelerator pedals, brakes are just interfaces, not the actual "controls". I think many people would prefer for cars to be less automatic and give them more control from that perspective.

    What happens when Ford, like Toyoto, outsources some component to a third party who fucks up? You are driving along one day when you car decides you aren't driving properly and decides to ram you into a tree.

  • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:44PM (#38551416)

    So if I get on the highway can I set my cruise control and take my hands off the wheel?

    • ...that, with adaptive cruise control (one that slows down to speed of vehicle in front), and yah,... can prolly cruise for hours without touching the controls. Can't wait!

      • by RandyOo ( 61821 )

        In my dreams... I'm sure we'll get there eventually. :)

        I have a vehicle with a similar system: a European Honda Accord with LKAS (Lane-Keeping Assist System). It seems to have a watchdog timer in place that checks for input on the steering wheel, and if it doesn't detect anything with circa 14 seconds, the lane-keeping system automatically disables itself (with chimes and flashing yellow warning light on the dash). It's immediately re-enabled the moment you apply any force to the wheel. (It's actually a bit

    • I don't know about ford's implementation, but generally the idea is to give you not quite enough torque to stay in the lane. Take your hands off, and you *will* drift out of the lane. It just reduces fatigue on long drives, as it's the one doing the thinking, and you just provide a minor torque assist to it to confirm you're still awake and have your hands on the wheel.

      And yes, of course you can override the damn thing with minimal force. Engineers aren't complete morons.

      (I do love all the people who think

  • I wonder what some of the sci-fi/big brother application of this technology might be.

    Hackers/terrorists taking over cars on a major freeway to guide people to their deaths?

    The police/government deciding they have a problem with you and then seizing control of your car while you are driving it?

  • by smpoole7 ( 1467717 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:46PM (#38551448) Homepage

    It's going to go hoarse here in Alabama.

    When I first moved here and experienced my first traffic jam, I watched in amazement as the people drove over the median, onto sidewalks, around light poles and right on the edge of ditches.

    • True dat.

      Here is Calhoun County, the state/county seems to think that "repaving the roads" means patching the potholes.

      The little town I live in can afford to buy the cops brand new Dodge Chargers with all the fruit, but can't seem to repave the roads more often than once every 10 years.

      Of course there is a mason lodge on every streetcorner, so what else can you expect?

  • Buick (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fnord666 ( 889225 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:48PM (#38551456) Journal
    You would think Buick would be the first to come out with this in the US, given their customer demographic.
  • My Prius already does this. But I guess maybe that's a "hatchback", not a "sedan". And admittedly, it's an option available only on the premium configuration, so there might be an argument to be made of whether it's "mainstream" or not. Or maybe they don't consider it a "midsize" vehicle; I hear it has the interior volume of a midsize, but a smaller wheelbase than many midsize cars. It is, at least, "North American", though.

    Point being, every one of those qualifiers is there because somebody else really did

    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      Does the Prius actually keep you in the lane, or just warn if the car's drifting? If so, how close is it to a self-driving car, assuming freeway travel and no intersections; can you just take your hands off the wheel and let it auto-follow the lane?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The Prius Lane Keep Assist feature does steer a bit, gently - the wheel tends to drift toward it's best guess of the center of the lane. It won't drive for you, though: if you take your hands off the wheel it notices (I think it notices the absence of any applied torque over some reasonably short interval), sounds an alarm and turns off the feature.

  • by pbjones ( 315127 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:55PM (#38551500)

    smart cars lead to dumb drivers. On good roads people drive faster, not better. In smart cars people will drive thinking they are safer and will take more risks. As nice as the idea is, the people that this system targets should not be driving.

    • by ewieling ( 90662 )
      Drivers are already dumb. This simply helps reduce the number of people they kill.
    • Oh no!!! What will become of the smart, safe, fully aware and competent drivers like the ones who fill the roadways of today?!
  • Just give me an engine, 4 tires and a steering wheel.
  • This was an offer in an Audi Q5 we had built-to-order here in Switzerland. We put the order through three or four months ago for delivery in March. I put every safety feature possible in the car but the dealer told me not to keep this one because everyone ends up eventually turning it off.
  • by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <> on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:06PM (#38551600) Journal

    How long will it be before someone dies because a bug in the software caused their car to steer unexpectedly into something, or causing the driver to overcompensate (telling the computer "NO!"), causing a crash?

    This has disaster written all over it.

    • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      A little bit longer than it will take for someone to die because they don't have the feature.
  • Maybe this kind of technology can save a few lives.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:12PM (#38551670)

    from wikipedia:


    In 2007 Infiniti offered a newer version of this feature, which it called the Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) system. This feature utilizes the vehicle stability control system to help assist the driver maintain lane position by applying gentle brake pressure on the appropriate wheels.

    In 2004, Toyota added a Lane Keeping Assist feature to the Crown Majesta which can apply a small counter-steering force to aid in keeping the vehicle in its lane.

    2003: Honda launched its Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) on the Inspire.[13][14] It provides up to 80% of steering torque to keep the car in its lane on the highway.

  • by McDrewbie ( 530348 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:24PM (#38551780)
    How about after say 3 times the car has to enable this feature, it removes all control from the driver, keeps their belt buckled, and drives them to the nearest 12-hr Driving Course for a re-upper.
    • Wasn't it George Carlin that had the bit about adding dart guns to cars? When some guy did something wrong, you'd shoot a dart at his car, and when he got to 3 darts, the cops would pull him over for being an asshole.
  • by rcpitt ( 711863 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:30PM (#38551826) Homepage Journal
    At oil change time when you go to turn into the Mr. Lube the steering wheel resists, the doors and windows lock, the radio turns to a Ford oil change commercial and you're driven to the nearest Ford dealership
  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:42PM (#38551896)

    it's not difficult to change lanes, nor to stay in one lane. that's, quite frankly, the easiest part of driving. I don't need help. And keeping me between lines when the road ignores the lines -- construction zones, test paint strips, icons, etc. -- is a terrible idea.

    but more than anything else, why should I avoid driving drowsy when my car can help me out? you'll get more drowsy drivers, and more drunk drivers, than ever before.

    you'll also have a whole host of drivers blaming a crash on this feature, whether or not it's true.

    you've just taken both responsibilty and accountability away from the driver, and put it into something that can't be held accountable, and doesn't have a drivers licence. congrats.

    but hey, here's the truth. this is EXACTLY like letting your 8-year old child steer from the passenger seat, while on a long highway drive. it's very dangerous and very illegal. not because your child can't stay between the lines. because the driver is the driver.

    • by jamesh ( 87723 )

      And keeping me between lines when the road ignores the lines -- construction zones, test paint strips, icons, etc. -- is a terrible idea.

      What part of your brain stops you thinking that they've already considered this???

      but more than anything else, why should I avoid driving drowsy when my car can help me out? you'll get more drowsy drivers, and more drunk drivers, than ever before.

      Because you're a sensible and responsible driver? Other people aren't, but I doubt they are going to be any less responsible just because a car exists with this feature. And i'd prefer that other people have cars with this feature because they are less likely to drift across the road and suddenly be driving the wrong way in my lane.

      you'll also have a whole host of drivers blaming a crash on this feature, whether or not it's true.

      And this is new how? People will try and blame everything else first before accepting responsibi

      • the part of my brain that's very familiar with the false positives associated with computer decision-making algorithms.

        people started driving faster when they got airbags. welcome to humans. there will be more drowsy drivers as a result of this. look up humans in a book and start to learn about them.

        there are very few things that you can blame for a drowsy crash now. after weather and an actually broken car, you're down to minutia. by car crashed by itself will now become a legitimate reason -- whereas

  • by outsider007 ( 115534 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:50PM (#38551960)

    Also I'd like to request a 'snooze bar' feature, sometimes I like to get a few more minutes sleep before getting off the highway.

  • Phrasing... (Score:4, Funny)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @06:23PM (#38552226) will also steer the car back into the right lane...

    I hope they mean "correct" (or "current") lane.

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @06:39PM (#38552362) Journal
    Normally a drunk or drowsy person would run off the road and either be jolted awake by the rumble strips or hit a tree/guardrail/ditch/etc. It sounds morbid, but they are the only ones injured or killed.

    This new system defeats the purpose of the rumble strips by preventing your from getting to them and keeps you on the road until you hit someone else. It turns a dangerous, incapacitated driver's vehicle into a guided missile. This is a very bad thing. I'm not at all convinced the a vibrating steering wheel will wake them up... Rumble strips violently rock the whole car and make a loud, disturbing noise.
    • by swonkdog ( 70409 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @08:42PM (#38553226)

      ... Rumble strips violently rock the whole car and make a loud, disturbing noise.

      That sound may be disturbing if you are a responsible driver who may for one reason or another have momentarily lapsed in control of your vehicle. Out in Las Vegas the sun destroys painted lines so quickly that they have more or less given up repainting them and now delineate lanes with little round plastic domes. I've seen many times where a drunk driver will use that 'loud, disturbing noise' to navigate. They call it driving by Braille. You and I consider that noise to be disturbing, they consider it to be reassuring. It's one of the reasons that I will absolutely not be out on the roads tonight (New Years Eve).

  • by wealthychef ( 584778 ) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @07:05PM (#38552558)
    is to force people to always leave at least 3 car lengths between themselves and the car in front of them on the freeway, including onramps and exits. (metering lights effectively create this situation, and they do work). This way, people could always merge, change lanes, etc. Once a merge or lane change was accomplished, another merge or lane change by the same car should not be allowed until proper distance is established from the car in front again. If the police would simply enforce this one law ruthlessly, road conditions would improve dramatically. The preponderant reason for traffic jams is people not letting others merge or execute needed maneuvers, and people making sudden lane changes, both of which cause sudden braking, which is amplified backwards through traffic. Smooth driving, even under severely packed conditions, would alleviate almost all traffic jams.
  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @08:56AM (#38555642) Homepage

    It's great that you're making such huge advances in automotive technology. Incidentally, have you seen the the Citroen C5 from seven years ago that had this as part of the standard base-level fit?

    I wonder what amazing things Ford will introduce in 2012? Suspension that works? Engines that deliver enough power to pull you out of bed?

  • by NeoMorphy ( 576507 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:24PM (#38558386)

    The Prius already has "Lane Assist", and I know the 2011 model is a mid-sized car, because I'm 6'2" and there is plenty of headroom, it seats five, and I was able to fit an over 6 foot tall Christmas tree in it and close the back door(not the at same same time as seating five, obviously I had to fold the back seat down). Plus, the insurance company lists it as a mid-size car.

    So, unless they are saying the Prius is a luxury car, the Fusion is not the first.

We were so poor we couldn't afford a watchdog. If we heard a noise at night, we'd bark ourselves. -- Crazy Jimmy