Latest Technology from VW Group: How Do Travel Assist and Adaptive Lane Assist Work?
New technology is one of the most exciting parts of new automotive development. As new cars roll off the production line each model year, many of us wait eagerly for OEMs to tell us all about the brand-new technology that will be featured in the new models. Since most of us don’t have the privilege of attending auto shows in Geneva, Frankfurt, New York, and Beijing (among others), then we often miss the latest announcements from these companies as they happen.
Volkswagen is one of the largest OEMs and thus showcases much of its latest technologies when unveiling its newest models. Two of their recent developments include Travel Assist and Adaptive Lane Assist. In today’s blog, we’ll be taking a closer look at each, how it works and what benefit they bring to drivers.
Travel Assist – What Is It and How Does It Work?
When thinking about both Travel Assist and Adaptive Lane Assist, it’s not quite right to think of them as totally separate or independent features. In fact, the Adaptive Lane Assist features is one of the key features that makes up Travel Assist, among others. So, in this section we’ll take a look at the parts of Travel Assist that don’t include the Lane Assist elements. We’ll cover those in the next section.
What is Travel Assist?
In short, Travel Assist is a package of features that is similar to Ford’s BlueCruise and GM’s Ultra Cruise technology. It chiefly combines both adaptive cruise control and lane assist features, as well as what VW calls “Emergency Assist” to allow the car to control itself while out on the road.
When it is active, Travel Assist is able to independently control the vehicle’s accelerator, brake and steering. The system will keep the car in lane (more further below), while also actively maintaining safe distances between the car and other vehicles on the road.
To activate this system, the driver first needs to ensure that adaptive cruise control has been activated, and be travelling at a speed greater than 20-mph. Once these 2 conditions have been satisfied, they can press the Travel Assist button mounted on the steering wheel to activate the feature. To confirm that the system is active, drivers need only look for a green symbol appearing on the dash to indicate that the vehicle recognises the current road and is able to operate with some autonomy.
If the driver wants to deactivate the system, they need only push the button or press on the brake pedal. They can then reactivate by accelerating to their desired speed and pressing the Travel Assist button once more.
What is Emergency Assist?
Another key part of Travel Assist is known as Emergency Assist. While Travel Assist is a very smart feature that can help maintain lane position and relative distance from other vehicles on the road, it is by no means a fully autonomous driving system. Therefore, it’s critical that drivers keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times while using it.
Emergency Assist is the failsafe mechanism that first helps remind drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel. If it detects that the driver’s hands are not on the wheel for more than a few seconds, it will display a message on the dash reminding the driver to take the wheel again. After a few more seconds, this becomes an audible warning and the dash message turns red.
At this point, with no driver input detected, Emergency Assist kicks in, and starts to slow the car down while at the same time keeping it in lane. If there is still no driver input, the system will continue to work until the car is safely brought to a stop, and it will also activate the hazard lights. The idea here is to prevent the car from losing control and veering off the road or into other vehicles in the event that a driver becomes unconscious — either through fatigue, illness, or something else.
Adaptive Lane Assist – What Is It and How Does It Work?
VW’s Adaptive Lane Assist technology is a key constituent part of the Travel Assist system. Lane-centering technology is not brand new, but it being used in concert as part of these new advanced driver assistance systems is a relatively new thing.
In its more basic form, lane centering technology was designed to use the car’s own cameras and sensors to detect when a driver was starting to veer from their chosen lane. It would then broadcast audio-visual warnings to the driver, but would take no corrective action. Later, the car was able to keep itself within the lane by having some automatic control over steering.
Adaptive Lane Assist uses a camera mounted above the dashboard to monitor the road and lanes to provide the recognition of certain roads that allows Travel Assist to Work. As we mentioned above, not all roads are recognised by the system and thus Adaptive Lane Assist and Travel Assist can’t be used on all roads. This is indicated by the green marker on the dash, which is green when the system recognises the road, but will be yellow where it does not.
When the system is red, only the cruise control elements will work, and not the Adaptive Lane Assist.
How Does It Work?
Lane Keeping Assist is an interesting technology that raises some questions from new users. One question is how does it work when you want to change lanes? It’s surely a good technology to keep active, but when you need to change lanes, as you might well do on a motorway, how does it work?
The system is designed to intervene as and when you get too close to the lane lines, at which point it will redirect the car back toward the lane centre. However, if you use your indicators — as you always should when changing lanes — then the system will allow you to change lanes as normal. So, one of the added benefits of the Adaptive Lane Assist, on top of preventing any loss of control, is that it encourages drivers to use the correct procedures when manoeuvring in the road.