Integrated Safety: Driving the Automotive Industry Towards a Safer Future

Integrated safety connects active and passive safety technology which helps improve comfort, convenience, and driver support.

By Ashok Kumar Jha, ZF Group calendar 16 Oct 2023 Views icon6181 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Integrated Safety: Driving the Automotive Industry Towards a Safer Future

In recent years, the Indian automotive industry has witnessed a profound shift towards integrated safety systems. We notice that this shift has revolutionised vehicle safety, both from the driver’s and passengers’ perspective. Studies show that human error is the cause for over 90% of road mishaps.  

Integrated safety connects active and passive safety technology which helps improve comfort, convenience, and driver support with simple-to-use assistance systems including occupant health monitoring. These technologies also proactively identify potential risks, mitigate accidents, and minimise the impact of collisions. These assistance systems are already capable of supporting during evasive or emergency braking maneuvers and preventing accidents.

An overview
Integrated safety goes beyond the traditional approach of isolated safety features and instead focuses on creating a cohesive and interconnected safety ecosystem within the vehicle. By combining advanced technologies, sensors, and intelligent systems, integrated safety aims to prevent accidents, protect occupants and pedestrians, and mitigate the severity of collisions.

Integrated vehicle safety connects active and passive safety technology. Improving integrated vehicle safety goes hand in hand with the development of autonomous and automated driving. Integrated safety enhances comfort, convenience and driver support with easy-to-use assistance systems and functions like health monitoring of the vehicle occupants. These technologies can help assist in critical driving situations and in protecting occupants

This concept has evolved as a response to the growing need for improved safety measures in the automotive industry. With the increasing complexity of road networks, distracted driving, and a rise in traffic-related incidents, manufacturers and researchers have recognised the importance of developing proactive safety solutions that can prevent accidents rather than just mitigating their consequences.

Integrated safety systems encompass a wide range of active and passive technologies, such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Collision Avoidance Systems, Pedestrian Protection, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Integrated Brake control (IBC) Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), among other. Passive safety systems include air-bags, and seatbelts which help to reduce the consequences of accidents.

Growing awareness of these technologies shed more light on their importance. Accident Prevention, Improved Driver Awareness, Mitigation of Collision Severity, and significant contribution to Autonomous Driving are just a few benefits among others.  It is important to note that today the focus on new mobility is not on only electromobility or autonomous driving, but it also focuses on safe and sustainable mobility. It is safe to say that these two are the driving forces for future mobility.

Integrated Safety Driving the Automotive Industry
Driven by advancements in technology and a greater understanding of accident prevention, integrated safety has now evolved. Initially, vehicular safety focused on passive measures such as seat belts and airbags. However, advent of sophisticated sensors, real-time data analysis, and communication networks, enables these safety systems to shape the mobility of the future.

Active Safety Technology
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS):
The Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) Market was valued at USD 22.5 billion in 2021. The market is projected to grow USD 47 billion in 2028, at a CAGR of 11.10%. The cornerstone of integrated safety lies in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), and it incorporates a range of technologies such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, and automated emergency braking. These systems work together to augment driver awareness, prevent collisions, and reduce the severity of accidents. ADAS systems rely on various sensors, cameras, and radars that constantly monitor the vehicle's surroundings, providing critical information to the driver and taking corrective actions when necessary.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC):
ESC helps drivers maintain control of their vehicles during sudden maneuvers or when road conditions become challenging. It continuously monitors the vehicle's movements and, if it detects a loss of control or skidding, selectively applies brakes to individual wheels and adjusts engine power to bring the vehicle back on track.

Integrated Brake control (IBC)
Integrated brake control (IBC) is a non-vacuum, fully integrated electro-hydraulic system providing premium brake performance for automatic emergency braking, full energy recuperation and redundant fallback options up to full automated driving for passenger car and light truck segments

Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA):
LDW uses cameras or sensors to detect lane markings and alerts the driver if the vehicle unintentionally drifts out of its lane. LKA takes this a step further by actively steering the vehicle back into its lane or providing steering assistance to help the driver stay centered within the lane.

Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB):
FCW uses sensors or cameras to detect potential collisions with vehicles or obstacles in front of the vehicle. It alerts the driver through visual or auditory warnings, giving them time to react. AEB, on the other hand, can autonomously apply the brakes or provide additional braking force if the driver fails to respond, helping mitigate or avoid a collision.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC):
ACC utilises sensors and radar to maintain a set distance from the vehicle ahead, automatically adjusting the vehicle's speed. It combines traditional cruise control with automatic braking and acceleration, ensuring a safe following distance and reducing driver fatigue during long drives or in congested traffic.

Autonomous Driving and Safety:
The emergence of autonomous driving represents the pinnacle of integrated safety in the automotive industry. Autonomous vehicles leverage a vast array of sensors, cameras, and AI algorithms to navigate the roads without human intervention. The potential benefits of autonomous driving include the elimination of human error, the ability to react faster than humans, and the potential for improved traffic efficiency. However, the road to fully autonomous vehicles is not without challenges, as ethical considerations, regulatory frameworks, and public acceptance remain significant hurdles. In situations where the driver is unable to react in time to help prevent an accident, the ‘Automated Front Collision Avoidance’ assistance feature can monitor the surroundings of the vehicle.

Reducing Crash impact AKA Passive Safety Technology
While active safety systems play a significant role in preventing the most fatal accidents from taking place, however when a crash happens, passive safety systems come into the picture. These systems help reduce the impact and consequences of the mishap for the occupants and other road users.

Airbags and seat belts function as a synchronised system in modern automobiles. For instance, the airbag creates a life-saving barrier between the driver and the steering wheel, and the seat belts assist in keeping the person in the proper seating position. These passive safety features are intended to lessen the consequences of collisions and injuries. Passive safety features, such as seatbelts, airbags, crumple zones, and reinforced structures, play a crucial role in making the interior of the car safer.

If a crash is unavoidable, passive safety technology can help to reduce the consequences of the accident for the occupants and other road users. Working as a coordinated system in modern cars are seat belts and airbags. The seat belts help to keep the occupant in the correct seating position and the airbag forms a life-saving buffer between the driver and the steering wheel. They minimise the danger of head, chest, and stomach injuries by distributing the impact forces over stronger body areas. Pretensioners and load limiters are additional components of a seatbelt system. While load limiters gradually release seat belt tension to prevent excessive stresses on the vehicle's structure, pretensioners immediately tighten the seat belt upon impact to ensure that passengers are securely fastened.

Working in tandem: Active safety and passive merge into integrated safety
Active safety and passive safety systems work together in an integrated manner to provide comprehensive safety protection for occupants in vehicles. While active safety systems focus on accident prevention and mitigation, passive safety systems  work during a collision.

Active safety systems continuously monitor the vehicle's surroundings, detect potential hazards, and provide warnings or assistance to the driver. These systems actively intervene to prevent accidents by applying brakes, adjusting steering, or alerting the driver to take corrective action. The goal is to avoid accidents or reduce their severity. On the other hand, passive safety systems are designed to protect occupants in the event of a collision. These systems are more traditional and include seat belts, airbags, crumple zones, and reinforced vehicle structures. Unlike active safety systems, passive safety systems are reactive and come into action after a collision occurs.

Integrated safety aims to create a harmonious interaction between active and passive safety systems, optimising the overall safety performance of a vehicle. By combining accident prevention and mitigation with effective occupant protection, integrated safety systems work towards reducing the likelihood of accidents, minimising the severity of collisions, and ensuring the best possible outcomes for vehicle occupants in the unfortunate event of a crash.

Implementation of Integrated Safety

Collaboration and Standardisation:
The successful implementation of integrated safety requires collaboration and standardisation across the automotive industry. Manufacturers, technology companies, regulatory bodies, and policymakers need to work together to establish standards, share best practices, and ensure compatibility between different safety systems. Collaborative efforts can accelerate innovation, increase consumer trust, and foster a safer environment for all road users.

Integrated safety systems are at the forefront of the automotive industry, reshaping our approach to vehicle safety. The combination of advanced technologies, data analytics, and interconnected systems has paved the way for a safer and more secure driving experience. As integrated safety continues to evolve, we can anticipate even greater advancements, ultimately leading to a future where accidents are significantly reduced, road fatalities become a rarity, and transportation becomes more efficient and sustainable. The automotive industry must embrace this paradigm shift and prioritise integrated safety to ensure the well-being of drivers, passengers. Is it safe to say that integrated safety will most likely be the ‘next big thing’ that the automotive industry will have to embrace.

Ashok Kumar Jha is the Engineering Director -Active Safety Engineering-India at ZF Group. Views expressed are those of the author. 

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