Continuing the Quest to Protect Vulnerable Pedestrian Road Users
Pedestrian fatalities on U.S. roads continue to track upward, having increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade. Earlier this year, the Governors Highway Safety Administration calculated that there were 6590 pedestrian fatalities in 2019 after making a preliminary analysis of the available data, which marks a 60 percent increase since 2009. In contrast, all other traffic deaths only rose 2 percent between 2009 and 2018.
But pedestrians aren’t just in danger in the U.S., for example, more than 100,000 pedestrians and cyclists were injured during accidents in Germany alone during 2019. This all highlights the fact that pedestrians and cyclists are two very vulnerable road user groups that need special safety related attention worldwide.
So, with pedestrian accidents on the rise, advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) becoming more widely mandated, and fully autonomous vehicles on the horizon, new products and technology are needed to better evaluate automatic accident prevention systems which could be immensely successful in reducing collisions with pedestrians and cyclists.
The Ultra-Flat Overrunable (UFO) robot platforms have been invaluable tools in providing the necessary interactions with ADAS equipped vehicles on the test track. Using these GPS controlled platforms to mount crashable dummy vehicles that cross paths with real automobiles and provide detectable targets for automatic braking and avoidance systems has proven to be a breakthrough technology in active safety evaluations.
This is the very reason Humanetics is excited to offer a new product to the active safety market, the UFOnano, an UFO robot platform even smaller than the UFOmini, making it a perfect compact ADAS safety device to run fully autonomous pedestrian and collision mitigation testing.
The elegant thing about a very petite, low profile UFO is that it easily accommodates a pedestrian test dummy with a shoulder width footprint not much larger than that of a real human being. This sleek stature allows multiple dummy pedestrians to ‘swarm’ together shoulder to shoulder and mimic individualized actions that can really put a vehicle’s ADAS systems to the test. Any safety testing should be as realistic as possible and anticipate true-to-life pedestrian behavior that could lead to an accident.
Since Humanetics is committed to producing products to improve active safety testing for both vehicle occupants and pedestrians alike, our desire was to deliver a product with the distinctive Humanetics standard for accuracy that can be used for vulnerable road user testing and meet the market need for more realistic test scenarios and pedestrian behavior.
The UFOnano’s simple and reliable design allows maximum flexibility under diverse scenarios with its extreme stability, exceptionally high accuracy using an integrated RTK-GPS system, and of course, it is overrunable. The Nano platform is also fully integrated into the Humanetics UFO base control environment for complex testing using up to nine robots from the Humanetics family. And as with all our active safety products, we’ve integrated swappable batteries to guarantee no downtime at the proving ground.
Markus Schmidl, Humanetics’ Global Director of Active Safety Sales sums it up, “We are very proud of the UFOnano as the newest addition to our Humanetics product portfolio. We started in the active safety business more than 10 years ago when we were approached by a client to develop a platform that a test car could run over without damage. So, we created an ultraflat overrunable robot for active safety testing, which is now known as the UFOpro and used by many EuroNCAP labs, TIER1s and car manufacturers all over the world. We are convinced that this new UFOnano robotic platform will further help us to improve road safety for vulnerable road users and bring us one step closer to protecting human potential.”