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Tuesday, June 26, 2007
IBM Researches Cars With "Reflex" Technology

IBM announced a research initiative into equipping cars with technologies that could help reduce traffic congestion and prevent accidents.

IBM Researchers are conducting research into active safety and driver assist technologies in vehicles that exchange information with each other and with the road infrastructure, take corrective action where appropriate, and provide feedback to the drivers to help avoid dangerous situations.

Much like automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes, and cruise control, advanced driver assist technologies will relieve the driver from having to perform some manual operations in complex driving situations. An intelligent vehicle receiving information from its environment will be able to react to the rapidly changing situation on the road as if it had "reflexes."

Such electronic "reflexes" are faster than human actions and will allow vehicles to be closer to one another on the road, improving the flow without compromising safety. Humans, however, will remain better than machines at analyzing complex situations. "The idea is that the driver always stays in control, but gets additional information to help make judgment calls," said Dan Chevion, initiator of the exploratory research project at the IBM Haifa Research Lab.

When a car takes corrective action the driver may get feedback, such as a change in accelerator pedal pressure or a force feedback from the steering wheel. The driver may also get audio and visual warnings. In addition, vehicles will communicate with each other and with the road infrastructure, disseminating information about their positions and actions and about the changing environment, such as a slippery road or a sudden traffic pileup.

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