Researchers developed an assistive technology to help drivers maintain the two-seconds rule.
The two-seconds rule is taught in driver’s classes across various countries, and it is a rule of thumb that helps drivers maintain a safe distance from the car ahead at any speed. Following this rule and adhering to it can be difficult.
A team of engineers led by Dan Work, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, have developed an assistive technology to help drivers maintain this guidance to smooth out traffic jams and improve safety.
The engineers reported their work in a preprint “CAN Coach: Vehicular Control through Human Cyber-Physical Systems” published in arXiv.
The team of engineers introduced a controller area network coach to cars which gives real-time feedback to drivers using radar data containing speed and position relative to the car ahead. According to one of the researchers, Work, a 2021 Chancellor Faculty Fellow, the goal was to see if they could use sensors already available within vehicles on the road to successfully help drivers maintain a safe distance—in essence to drive in a way no human can do alone.
By comparing the six drivers with and without the CAN coach, the engineers found that the drivers with the assistive technology came closer to and maintained the two-second rule.
“This experiment gives us every indication that when drivers are given feedback by the car, they can accomplish complex driving tasks,” Work said. “We are now exploring how coached human drivers may ultimately help improve traffic conditions overall.” Work’s team intends to expand the experiments to larger cohorts of drivers and is looking into creating systems that deliver personalized feedback that improves performance and minimizes intervention.