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Assistance systems: Always on course with the lane departure warning system

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Shortly after the turn of the millennium, Nissan and Honda various models in their range already equipped with lane departure warning systems at the customer's request. However, the technology was only available for right-hand drive vehicles in the Japanese home market. In Europe, Citroën has done pioneering work in lane departure warning.

In 2004 the French posted on the Genfer Autosalon AFIL (lane deviation alarm by infrared line detection) - a system that inspects the road with infrared sensors and vibrates the driver's seat if the car appears to accidentally touch the marking strip. Because if the driver sets the indicator beforehand, his prudent high-tech helper will not move. This innovation impressed the experts in Geneva and Citroën was able to take home the innovation award.

Assistant warns with steering wheel vibration

A little later, BMW , Mercedes , Audi and VW Lane departure warning as an option for selected Models in their range. Your assistants focus on the lane and markings with a black and white camera the size of a cell phone installed above the inside mirror on the windshield. From a certain driving speed, most manufacturers have chosen the limit of 60 or 65 kilometers per hour, the system becomes active and uses the camera eye to check where there are broken or solid lines. Even in darkness or fog, the markings are easily recognized by the camera. The second helper in the group is an electronic control unit that evaluates the data from the camera and in turncan detect the position of the car. If an unintentional lane change is imminent, the assistant warns with steering wheel vibration.

At Mercedes, the system not only registers whether the blinker is activated or not. It evaluates various activities of the driver and can thus determine whether the car is leaving its lane with or without the 'consent' of its pilot. For example, if the driver accelerates before overtaking or when entering the motorway, if he brakes heavily or steers into a curve, the assistance system does without warning signals.

Audi's 'Lane Assist' initially steers continuously and gently against it if the system registers an unintentional departure from the lane. If the assistant's counter-steering is not enough, he can shake the steering wheel. The manufacturer emphasizes that the driver can 'override' 'Lane Assist' at any time with little effort. After all, the assistance system should not relieve the person behind the wheel of their responsibility to consciously drive the car. If the driver takes his hands off the steering wheel for eight to ten seconds, the assistance system prompts the 'chief pilot' to take over the cockpit alone by means of optical and acoustic signals and then switches off.

Lane keeping assistant can save lives

Figures from accident research should convince customers that the surcharge for the optional lane departure warning system is money well invested. 'Leaving the lane is the cause of every sixth serious accident on German roads. More than a third of all road users killed are victims of such accidents,' says Mercedes. The Swabians currently only offer their lane departure warning system for the E- and S-Class. Here it is in an extensive assistance system with automatic distance control, brake assist and blind spot warning. The car manufacturer charges 2,560 euros for this.

Volvo s 'Driver Alert 'also warns of unintentional rollover of the marking lines and also of signs of driver fatigue and is available as an option for the S80 for 700 euros. Volkswagen also offers Lane Keeping Assist for the Passat CC and the Audi Q5 'solo'. Customers who want appropriate support have to invest a little more than 500 euros. For the new V W Touareg 'Lane Assist' (lane departure warning) and 'Side Assist' (blind spot warning) are available as an assistant duo that costs 1,095 euros. Accessory specialists also offer universal systems for retrofitting practically every car.

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