Hyundai Motor Company has started to develop advanced occupant safety technologies to help reduce the risk of passenger injuries in autonomous vehicles. The companies revealed the first stage of this development this week: a control algorithm optimised for autonomous driving conditions.

Autonomous vehicles use advanced technologies such as on-board cameras and radar sensors to determine risk factors and greatly reduce the likelihood of accidents. However, researchers have determined the need for specialised safety system controls that are optimised for autonomous driving conditions, given the risk of other vehicles crossing the centreline or the sudden appearance of other hazards or obstacles.

Hyundai Safety

To this end, Hyundai has developed a new autonomous vehicle safety control algorithm, aimed at reducing the risk of such accidents and mitigating their impact. As an autonomous vehicle reduces its speed or changes direction to avoid a sudden hazard or obstacle, the control algorithm calculates the occupants anticipated movements. These calculations enable the system to optimise use of on-board safety devices, such as airbags and seat belt pretensioners.

Hyundai has tested a range of autonomous driving scenarios and found that, in steering to avoid the obstacle, the car threw a passenger off balance before colliding with the obstacle. Under these circumstances the passenger was out of position as the airbag deployed, providing reduced protection.

By applying the new algorithm, however, the airbag and seat belt pretensioner were deployed more effectively to provide far greater protection to the passenger. The algorithm reduced the passenger’s angle of movement by momentarily tightening the seatbelt pretensioner just before the collision. This stabilised the passenger’s posture and provided further protection by pre-activating the side and curtain airbags at the moment of the crash.

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Even in a scenario where the autonomous car brakes to a halt and successfully avoids an obstacle, the algorithm still pre-tightens the seat belts to reduce the risk of injury while the possibility of a collision still exists.

The new algorithm will be applied to a range of future autonomous vehicles from Hyundai.

According to Wook Jin, Head of Integrated Safety Development Group at Hyundai Research and Development Division, Hyundai is proactively developing new safety technologies to maximise passenger safety.

We are directing our efforts towards creating the safest autonomous driving technologies that provide maximum protection to passengers, even if the vehicle they are travelling in takes action to avoid a collision. These safety technologies will help prepare our vehicles and their users for a future of shared autonomous mobility and purpose-built vehicles.

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