"Stay in your lane, idiot."

Be honest - how often do you find yourself thinking, or yelling, that in your car?

In an age where drivers are seemingly more distracted than ever before, veering out of your lane and potentially side-swiping into the car travelling alongside you or - worse - head-on towards an oncoming vehicle is an ever-present danger. Which is why car makers have developed lane keeping assistance, a relatively new form of driver aid that helps make sure you stay between the lines.

What is it?

Lane keeping assist systems are typically packaged up as part of a modern car’s active safety suite, but the first application of the technology was actually in the Mercedes Actros prime mover in 2000.

By the following year, Nissan had begun offering it in cars and now it is quite common with a variety of iterations that take significantly different actions.

Lane departure warning only alerts you, either with an audio/visual prompt or in some cases haptic feedback through the steering wheel, the seatbelt or seat cushion, whereas lane keeping assistance is a pro-active system that is able to intervene and manipulates the steering to prevent you from veering outside your lane.

How does it work?

Most lane monitoring systems use a camera mounted in the windscreen, typically just ahead of the rear-view mirror that scans the road ahead for the lane markings. The information from the camera is analysed by the car’s onboard computer and will react if you begin to stray. In such a scenario an active lane keeping assist system is able to apply torque to the steering wheel to pull the car back towards the centre of the lane.

Depending on your particular car the system will work at different speeds. For the system to work properly the lanes need to be clearly marked so the camera can detect them. Patchy road markings can sometimes create false readings, though most systems are getting smarter at telling the difference.

What else can it do?

Car makers have already begun taking lane keeping to the next step in assisted driving. By pairing the technology with active cruise control several modern cars are able to offer mild autonomous driving, with the driver able to let the car control both the position of the car in the lane as well as the speed.

Due to legislation you can only have your hands off the steering for a few seconds before an alert will sound and it forces you to take control again.

Source: Drive

March 14, 2019