As part of the UR:BAN research project, MAN is developing solutions for road traffic in cities together with thirty-one partners.
Thirty-one partners from the automobile and component industries, electronics, communications and software companies, universities and research institutes, as well as local authorities, have come together to create a joint UR:BAN project aimed at developing driver assistance and traffic management systems for cities. Eberhard Hipp, former Head of Vehicle Research at MAN Truck & Bus AG and UR:BAN Coordinator, talks about innovations and progressive traffic management for the urban traffic of the future.
Mr. Hipp, how can assistance systems help to increase the operating efficiency and safety of commercial vehicles in inner cities?
It´s a question of networking information that is not readily available to drivers - such as traffic signal timing or the latest traffic jams, for instance. Assistance systems process this kind of information in real time, so they can anticipate upcoming events better than the driver and react by suggesting strategic solutions, warning him in critical situations or even intervening automatically, if necessary.
As a member of the UR:BAN research project, MAN is working on the three pillars "Networked Traffic System", "Cognitive Assistance" and "Human Factors in Traffic". What is their significance in terms of vehicle development and especially for MAN customers?
Our aim is to use innovative systems and new technology to analyze the increasingly complex traffic activity around each vehicle and, based on this information, determine driving strategies to optimize consumption, identify dangerous situations and protect the driver against any possible errors. In this way, we want to make a major contribution to improving the efficiency and safety of road traffic.
Processing more and more information within ever shorter time frames – what will this mean for drivers and urban traffic flows?
Drivers shouldn´t be overloaded with information. This is one of the key tasks of the sub-project "Human Factors in Traffic". Information must be reduced to what is really necessary and communicated to the driver in a way that can be intuitively understood. The aim is to minimize driver distraction. Special note must be taken of this in the event that new assistance systems have to be operated by the driver. The advantage for him and other road users is that driver assistance systems are always wide awake, don´t get tired and are therefore able to generate danger warnings and in the worst case, instantly intervene.
UR:BAN reaches its halfway mark this year. Are you pleased with the way the project has progressed up to now?
As in the case of the preceding projects "Active" and "Invent", this venture involves precompetitive cooperation on the part of manufacturers, suppliers and research institutes. As far as exchanging know-how among the experts is concerned, this works extremely well and very efficiently. Since surveys on certain themes can be jointly commissioned by the project partners, the financial burden can often be shared. The results will benefit the whole of society.
What are you expecting for the second half of the project?
My wish would be that the second half goes as well as the first, but I have absolutely no doubts about that. In the end, we´ll be able to present operational demonstrators so that the new functions can be experienced live. The results of the project will undoubtedly represent an important milestone for the future of safe and efficient urban traffic.
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