Scientists at Chalmers University in Sweden are working with Volvo to develop a vehicle control system that can take over steering and breaking when it detects an imminent collision. The system can make split-second decisions on behalf of the driver.

Autonomic control of a vehicle's steering or braking systems based on the vehicle assessing the speed and direction of nearby vehicles could significantly reduce the number of often-fatal road accidents. Existing systems are often predefined to use either braking or steering to avoid accidents of a certain type, even though both types of actions may be applicable. The new system can be used in general traffic situations not only to decide if an intervention is necessary to avoid an accident, but also to select the most suitable type of intervention, steering or braking. Braking or steering is then applied appropriately with very short response times.

The researchers have successfully tested their algorithm on four common accident types. The system could allow for the development of a general collision avoidance system that assists the driver in common collision types, and makes use of the best available intervention type, whether braking or steering out of harm's way.