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Driver assist for health emergency

Help is on its way: BMW's emergency system can steer to the side of the road if the driver has a medical emergency.

BMW system takes control when the driver has a health emergency

BMW logo8 Jun 2009

By DAVID HASSALL

BMW is working on an innovative system that will automatically stop a vehicle at the side of the road when it detects that the driver has a serious medical problem.

Called Emergency Stop Assistant, it is initially being developed for motorways and similar roads due to the reduced number of variables with making a controlled stop in such environments.

The German company’s engineers say the system will have the capacity to safely bring a car to a halt at the side of the road with the hazard lights flashing in a health-related emergency with little or no assistance from the driver.

It employs existing driver assistance systems combined with extra sensors designed to monitor the driver’s vital data.

If a medical emergency is detected, the control system switches on the hazard warning lights and manoeuvres the vehicle to the side of the road, taking into account the traffic around it, then sends out an emergency call containing the data required to initiate the necessary medical and traffic-related assistance measures.

The system is being developed by BMW Group’s Research and Technology department as part of a €125 million ($A220 million) German government project called SmartSenior, which was launched in February this year to help Germany’s growing number of elderly and chronically ill continue living independently in the future.

Project manager for SmartSenior at BMW, Ralf Decke, said the primary aim of the new system is to “avoid accidents caused by a health-related loss of control, or at least to reduce the severity of such accidents”.

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