Traffic accidents by elderly drivers are increasing each year in countries like Japan. Ultra-compact vehicles have attracted attention as one solution to this problem, and are looked to as a more compact, environmentally friendly, and convenient transportation means than conventional automobiles. However, their small size makes the use of conventional safety technologies difficult, and there has been little detailed research considering related safety issues. Because elderly persons are the primary target users of ultra-compact vehicles, there is a pressing need for applicable safety technologies. This research investigates miniaturized hardware for driving support that reduces the shock to passengers during sudden stopping due to the sudden appearance of obstacles. In this method, an optimal automatic stop is realized based on the distance to a detected obstacle, the speed of the vehicle, and the coefficient of friction with the road surface. We close with a description of experiments using simulations and actual machines which confirm the effectiveness and usefulness of the proposed method.
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