The “Deutscher Zukunftspreis”, or German Future Prize, is the Federal President’s prize for technology and innovation and is acknowledged as the country’s most prestigious award for technical and scientific innovations. In the anniversary year of the automobile, a team from Daimler is again among the three teams of researchers nominated for the prize by Federal President Christian Wulff. With their 6D-vision technology, which can make a vital contribution to the avoidance of accidents, the researchers won through against other potential candidates and are now nominated for the final selection.
“Road safety for all road users has always been a major area of focus and a core competence at Mercedes-Benz.” Prof Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, continues: “The 6D-Vision project represents a milestone along the road to accident-free driving and will form the basis of our future safety systems. I am absolutely delighted that this unique technology has been honoured in this special way by being nominated for the “Deutscher Zukunftspreis” in our 125th anniversary year.”
Specifically named in the nomination were Dr Uwe Franke, Dr Stefan Gehrig and Dr Clemens Rabe, who are responsible for this pioneering project as part of their work in Daimler AG’s Research and Advance Development department for Assistance Systems and Chassis Systems.
6D-Vision – faster than the human eye to recognise danger
The Daimler research team’s 6D-Vision project opens up whole new possibilities for future assistance systems that will make our roads safer for all road users. Key to bringing about reductions in accidents is a timely and full understanding of the often very complex issues going on around a vehicle and of the traffic situation. Other road users have to be recognised within split seconds and possible collision hazards reliably identified. For the first time in a car, 6D-Vision is able to convey the three-dimensional perception of a person and the identification of potential risks on a small, powerful piece of hardware that is absolutely viable for series production.
6D-Vision uses a stereo camera, acting in much the same way as the two eyes of its human exemplar, to compute the three-dimensional geometry of the situation in front of the vehicle in real time from the images it sees, using special algorithms developed by Daimler to do so. An analysis of consecutive pairs of images allows instant and reliable identification of any movement. Dr Uwe Franke: “The capability of 6D-Vision is such that we are able to support the driver in precisely the sort of situation where the complexity of traffic conditions increases the potential for an accident, for example at junctions or in roadworks.”
Split seconds are crucial
By linking the perception of both space and time, it is possible to differentiate between stationary and animated objects, even from a moving vehicle. Animated objects, for example children running unexpectedly into the road, are perceived within 200 milliseconds across a broad range of vision. Even the most alert person takes twice as long to do so; and should he or she be distracted, a further 500 milliseconds may be added to this time. An additional moment of shock adds further delay while the situation is assessed and until a reaction kicks in.
In purely mathematical terms, one second at a speed of 50 km/h equates to a vehicle covering a distance of around 15 metres. The computer works twice as fast as the driver and initiates safety measures after just seven metres. In an emergency braking situation, the vehicle therefore comes to a standstill more than a whole vehicle length sooner.
Since 6D-Vision technology is seen as being able to contribute significantly to reductions in road traffic accidents, it is Daimler’s aim to make this technology available in the future to other manufacturers as well. Prof Dr Thomas Weber: “6D-Vision will take its place in the long line of safety innovations that have celebrated their premiere in our company over the last 125 years. Ultimately, however, it will benefit all motorists.”
The “Deutscher Zukunftspreis” of the country’s Federal President has been awarded annually since 1997. As well as recognising scientific achievement, the award takes account of the marketability of a particular development. The award is given for projects that improve people’s lives, create new employment opportunities and sustain the country’s prosperity. Those organisations entitled to make nominations submit possible projects to an eminent jury made up of independent experts from both academia and industry. The jury then selects the three teams of researchers who, in their view, have the most innovative and marketable projects.
Daimler has been nominated for the award four times previously in the following areas:
- 1997 |”An environmentally compatible and resource-efficient fuel cell-based vehicle drive system”
- 2002 | “Protector – anticipatory emergency braking system for commercial vehicles”
- 2003 | “Anticipatory occupant protection system for passenger cars” 2006 | “Night View Assist – infrared technology for safer driving after dark”
The presentation of the award by German Federal President Christian Wulff will take place on 14 December 2011 in Berlin.