Department of Safety Engineering
Automotive Research Corporation
Detroit, Michigan 83901
Dear Mr. McMurrey:
I am submitting the accompanying report entitled Video Alert and Control Dashboard System for your consideration.
The report describes the Video Alert and Control dash system and its functions. Each component of the system is also described and a general operating process is given. Discussion also includes economic feasibility and advantages of the VAC dash system.
I sincerely hope you find this report helpful in future
safety engineering of ABC Corporation's cars.
Reed W. Barrett
Encl. Report on the Video Alert and Control dashboard system
THE VIDEO ALERT AND CONTROL DASHBOARD SYSTEM
Department of Safety Engineering
Automotive Research Corporation
June 6, 1996
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iv I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 II. DESCRIPTION AND FUNCTION OF COMPONENTS . . . . . . 2 Infrared Detector . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Radar Sender and Receiver . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 X-ray Sender and Receiver . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 On-Board Computer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Map Discs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Receptions from the Detectors . . . . . . . . 5 Video Screen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Keyboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Car Positioning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Intersection Statements . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Brake Applicator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 III. OPERATING CYCLE OF THE VAC SYSTEM . . . . . . . . 9 IV. ECONOMIC FEASIBILITY OF THE VAC SYSTEM . . . . . . 11 V. ADVANTAGES OF THE VAC SYSTEM . . . . . . . . . . 12 VI. CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 List of References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Figure Page 1. Component Placement in Car . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2. Detection Range . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 3. Mounting of Detection Units . . . . . . . . . . . 4 4. Components Mounted on Dash . . . . . . . . . . . 6 5. Graphic Projection on Video Screen . . . . . . . 6 6. Keyboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 7. Coordinate Projection on Video Screen . . . . . . 7
Table Page 1. U. S. Auto Accidents, Injuries, Deaths by Year. . 12
This report does not provide design or manufacturing detail and is intended
only to provide executives basic information with which to assess the feasibility
of installing these systems in XYZ cars.
Figure 1. Component Placement in Car
The infrared detector is the key detecting device in that it is constantly searching for warm objects in or near the path ahead of the car. Locating these objects is necessary because in many areas of the United States, loose wildlife is a major cause of nighttime and some daytime accidents. Therefore, the infrared detector "sees" the
upcoming trouble (before the driver) by sensing its warm-bloodedness and then alerts the driver. The detector will sense the warmth of any warm-blooded animal larger than a rabbit, which includes deer and cattle--the two main causes of wildlife-related accidents.
Equally important is the fact that other cars on the road give off detectable heat. By detecting these other cars, the driver is informed of upcoming traffic, a recent accident blocking the road ahead, or a stalled car, if some heat is still present in that car .
The driver is informed graphically by the video screen in his car, and to differentiate the wildlife from another car, the x-ray unit is used to check for metal in the detected object. So, if a warm object is detected with metal in it, the computer reads it as a car and shows it on the screen as a yellow dot. Contrastingly, if no metal is detected in the warm object, an animal is assumed and plotted as a red dot.
Radar Sender and Receiver
In order to find the exact location of the detected trouble, a radar sender and receiver is used. It is one of the three detecting devices mounted on the front of the car which constantly scans the road ahead for trouble. If the infrared detector detects heat from an upcoming object, the radar sender is activated immediately and radar waves are sent to the object. When the waves bounce off, they return to a parabolic mirror which contains the radar receiver. Here, the object's distance and position are calculated by the computer from the time of wave travel, and coordinates are found and plotted on the screen as a dot. This entire process takes less than 1/10th of a second once the heat is detected  . See Figure 2 for the detection range of the detecting devices.
Figure 2. Detection Range
X-Ray Sender and Receiver
The x-ray sender, used to detect metal in the upcoming object, is activated simultaneously with the radar sender. Working similarly to the radar, the x-rays are sent out and bounced back if metal is present. If no metal is present the wave is not returned to the receiver and the computer reads the information as an animal since nearly anything which is warm and does not contain metal is usually an animal. So, the instant at which heat is detected, the radar and x-ray senders are activated to acquire position and metal content knowledge of the object.
The three units mounted on the front of the car are the parabolic mirror (which contains the infrared, radar, and x-ray receivers), the radar sender, and the x-ray sender. These units are shown in mounted position in Figure 3. The units rotate in unison through a 90 degree angle every 1/2 second. This rotation gives a detection range of 150 yards in front of the car and 105 yards on each side. See Figure 2. They are also enclosed in a plexiglass box for protection from stones and insects. (The plexiglass is a very high grade so that refraction of the detecting waves is minimal.)
Figure 3. Mounting of Detection Units
The computer is mounted under the dash and preprogrammed to read and analyze two things: (1) the map discs and (2) the receptions from the detectors.
Map Discs. There are three map discs each of which contains a section of the United States' highways and roads. The computer reads the discs and projects a bird's-eye view of the road the driver is on onto the video screen. (The driver determines the road by plotting coordinates on the keyboard as will be discussed later in the report.) As the car travels down the road, the map flows along respectively to the car. The graphic projection is very similar to the popular road-race video games. The car appears at the bottom of the screen as a blue dot. Since the computer knows when an intersection in the road is approaching, it notifies the driver by a statement at the top of the screen. The driver then pushes a certain button to let the computer know if he wants to turn at the intersection, and if so, in which direction. The map then follows that direction on the new road or stays on the same one, whichever was indicated.
Receptions from the detectors. The receptions, as mentioned earlier, are analyzed by the computer to give the exact location of the object in reference to the car, and to determine what the object is. To calculate the location, the computer uses a trigonometric method from which initial information is supplied by the radar waves. To determine what the object is, the computer analyzes information from the infrared and x-ray detectors. As has been said, if heat
and metal are both detected inthe same object, the computer analyzes it as another car and produces a yellow dot on the screen. But if only heat is detected, an animal is assumed and a red dot appears.
The video screen is the component mounted on the face of the dashboard. As shown in Figure 4, it is in easy view of the driver just to the right of the steering wheel. Its graphic projection is very similar looking to that of a video game screen. Its functions are to display the flowing map and to show the driver exactly where any trouble is ahead so he can make adjustments in speed. An example of the graphic projection is shown in Figure 5.
Figure 4. Components Mounted on Dash
Figure 5. Graphic Projection on Video Screen
The keyboard, which is mounted next to the video screen on the dash, is a collection of 19 keys which transfers commands from the driver to the computer. See Figure 6. The keyboard's two basic functions are to (1) position the car (blue dot) at the exact location of the actual car and (2) respond to the upcoming intersection statements.
Figure 6. Keyboard
Positioning Car. When a disc is inserted into the slot above the keyboard, a map of the chosen section of the country appears with coordinates on the video screen. The numbers and letters which correspond to these coordinates are punched in the keyboard so that the screen will zoom in on a smaller area. See Figure 7. The driver keeps zooming to a smaller area until the exact area where his car sits appears. (This process is done by pushing the "number/letter" key then the "zoom" key.) Next, one of the four direction keys are pushed to tell the computer which direction the car will be traveling. Then the " " key is used to position the blue dot even more exactly. The "start" key is the last key in the positioning process and is to be pushed immediately before the car starts in motion.
Figure 7. Coordinate Projection on Video Screen
Intersection Statements. When an intersection approaches, the computer will need to know if the map should follow another road. Therefore, when the intersection is aobut 250 yards in front of the car, the top of the video screen reads: HIGHWAY 260 AHEAD The statement stays on the screen for 10 seconds and if the driver does not want to turn he pushes no keys. But if he wants to go west on 260, he pushes the "w" direction key. The computer then follows Highway 260 West instead of the previous road.
The brake applicator is the only automated control device of the car's safety
system. It is wired to the computer which tells it if the infrared detector
has detected something not moving and directly in front of the car. This could
be, for example, a recent car wreck or a deer in the car's lane. If an object
is detected in this area, the brake applicator slowly starts applying the brake
in case the driver's reflexes are not quick enough. The applicator will not
stop the car completely, but will apply the brake for five seconds. If the
object is not directly in front of the car, the brake is not applied automatically.
This device is used simply because it is very likely that the car will collide
with the object if not slowed immediately.
The normal operating cycle of the VAC dash is described by the following steps and procedures:
These steps will be repeated by the system whenever necessary throughout the traveling process until the unit is turned off.
The prototype of the VAC dash system was completed in March, 1983, and its final cost was $3,050. This price is definitely unfeasible to add on to the already high price of a car. Therefore, the key to the economic feasibility of the system is to mass produce this system. One of the main causes for the expensive prototype was the programming of more than four million miles of roads and highways  onto the three computer discs. But, not that the prototype discs have been made, the following ones can be mass produced off of these intial ones at a much lower price. Also, now that the program in the computer itself has been written, it will be much cheaper to duplicate. The projected price of the entire system installed into a new car while being mass produced is $1,200 to $1,300. These prices may still sound slightly expensive, but the lives and cars that this system will save will be well worth the cost.
Each year the number of auto accidents increases by the thousands. See Table 1. This continual increase is the factor which spurred the development of the VAC dash system. Obviously, not all accidents can be avoided by installing a VAC dash in every American's car, but a percentage of the accidents is sure to be decreased.
|Table 1. U. S. Auto Accidents, Injuries, and Deaths by Year.|
|Source: Statistical Abstract of the U. S. (1981), 74, 75, 78.|
Most auto deaths are caused by severe accidents in small cars. A government
report states that "annual fatalities in the United States are expected
to increase by 10,000 by 1990 due solely to changes in the size and weight
of vehicles on the road . . . fatalities in smaller cars will increase at a
rapid rate while large car fatalities will decline"
. These small cars
are much lighter than large cars and are much more dangerous. But, with the
high gasoline prices today, drivers prefer to drive these economical cars.
Because the continual use of these small cars, M&M Enterprises has made it
equally as easy to incorporate the VAC dash system into any size of car. Also,
the system functions equally as well and is no more expensive than if it were
installed in a large car.
|Interested in courses related to this page or a printed version? See the resources page.||Return to the main menu of this online textbook for technical writing.|