ANN ARBOR, MI --- The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute said it has begun field testing an integrated crash-warning system in passenger cars. 

The testing is part of UMTRI's Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems (IVBSS) program, a cooperative agreement with the U. S. Department of Transportation. The advanced safety technology fully integrates multiple crash-warning features, including forward collision, lane departure, lane change and merge, and curve speed-warning systems into a passenger-car platform. 

According to Jim Sayer, IVBSS program director and UMTRI researcher, the integrated system provides drivers with situational awareness of the vehicle's surroundings and warns drivers when they are about to inadvertently leave the roadway, are in danger of colliding with another vehicle while attempting a lane change, or are at risk of colliding with the vehicle ahead. 

Sixteen cars have been equipped and will be driven over the next 12 months by 108 randomly sampled, licensed drivers in southeast Michigan, in place of their personal vehicles. Driver actions and response during system use will be recorded and extensive data will be collected on naturalistic use and the driving environment. 

Researchers will then use the data to evaluate the potential safety benefits of integrating multiple crash-warning systems. An estimated 272,000 miles of driving data is expected.

The field testing is part of the second phase of the four-year program. 

"More than two years of research, development and verification testing went into developing the integrated system, and it's exciting to see the system now getting into the hands of drivers," Sayer said. "In our preliminary testing, drivers really liked it and we are very optimistic that the field test will demonstrate the safety benefits of integrating multiple crash-warning systems." 

The integrated safety system uses information gathered by inertial, video and radar sensors, plus a global positioning system, to warn drivers of potentially dangerous situations to prevent or lessen the severity of crashes. UMTRI launched a similar test of systems for commercial trucks in January of this year.