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Title:
AN ASSEMBLY FOR WARNING DRIVERS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/180216
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A warning system comprising a central processor and receivers in a number of vehicles. In the vehicles, the receiver and warning lights are incorporated in the hazard light button, as this already has power and is positioned in a position visible to the driver.

Inventors:
NIELSEN, Kurt (Viekærvej 11 Diernæs, 5600 Faaborg, 5600, DK)
Application Number:
EP2019/057263
Publication Date:
September 26, 2019
Filing Date:
March 22, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
TRAFFIC CONDUCTOR IVS (Viekærvej 11 Diernæs, 5600 Faaborg, 5600, DK)
International Classes:
G08G1/0965; G05D1/02; G08B25/00; G08G1/0967; G08G1/0968; G08G1/16; H04W4/02
Foreign References:
US20140227991A12014-08-14
US20100134271A12010-06-03
US20070159354A12007-07-12
US20070159354A12007-07-12
US20080105435A12008-05-08
US20090174572A12009-07-09
US20120194353A12012-08-02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
INSPICOS P/S (Kogle Allé 2, 2970 Hørsholm, 2970, DK)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. An assembly of a central processor and a plurality of vehicles each vehicle comprising : an emergency button positioned so as to be visible to a driver, and a warning device provided in the emergency button, the warning device comprising : a receiver for receiving a warning signal, a warning element configured to warn a driver, if a warning signal is received and the central processor comprising a central transmitter configured to output warning signals to the receivers of selected ones of the vehicles.

2. An assembly according to claim 1, wherein the central processor is configured to select the one or more vehicles as vehicles positioned within a predetermined area.

3. An assembly according to claim 2, wherein the central processor is configured to select at least one of the one or more vehicles as vehicles positioned on a predetermined stretch of a predetermined road .

4. An assembly according to claim 3, wherein the central processor is configured to select at least one of the one or more vehicles as vehicles positioned on the stretch of road and travelling in a predetermined direction.

5. An assembly according to claim 4, wherein the central processor is configured to select at least one of the one or more vehicles as vehicles travelling in the predetermined direction and in a predetermined lane of the road.

6. An assembly according to claim 3, wherein the central processor is configured to select at least one of the one or more vehicles as vehicles approaching the stretch from a byway.

7. An assembly according to any of the preceding claims, wherein : the warning device of at least one vehicle further comprises a vehicle transmitter configured to output a vehicle signal indicating a position of the vehicle and the central processor comprises a central receiver for receiving the vehicle signal(s), the central processor being configured to select the vehicle(s) on the basis of the vehicle signal(s) .

8. An assembly according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the warning element of at least one vehicle is configured to indicate a direction to the driver.

9. An assembly according to claims 5, 7 and 8, wherein the central processor is configured to identify: a first group of vehicles on the stretch and in the direction and driving in a first lane and a second group of vehicles on the stretch and in the direction and driving in a second lane, adjacent to the first lane, indicate to the vehicles in the first group to move in a first direction away from the second lane and indicate to the vehicles in the second group to move in a second direction away from the first lane.

10. A vehicle comprising an emergency button positioned so as to be visible to a driver, the vehicle further comprising a warning device provided in the emergency button, the warning device comprising : a receiver for receiving a warning signal, a warning element configured to warn a driver, if a warning signal is received .

11. A vehicle according to claim 10, wherein the emergency button comprises a light emitter and a power supply for the light emitter, the receiver and warning element being configured to receive power from the power supply.

12. A vehicle according to claim 10 or 11, wherein the warning element comprises a light emitter.

13. A vehicle according to any of claims 10-12, wherein the warning element is configured to indicate a direction to the driver. 14. A vehicle according to any of claims 10-13, wherein the warning device further comprises a vehicle transmitter configured to output a signal indicating a position of the vehicle.

Description:
AN ASSEMBLY FOR WARNING DRIVERS

The present invention relates to a system for warning a driver an more particularly to a system positioned in the hazard light of the vehicle, as this position is visible to the driver and already comprises power which may be used also for powering the warning system of the vehicle.

Systems of this type may be seen in US2007/0159354, US2008/0105435, US2009/0174572 and US2012/0194353.

A first aspect of the invention relates to an assembly of a central processor and a plurality of vehicles, each vehicle comprising : an emergency or hazard light button positioned so as to be visible to a driver, and a warning device provided in the emergency button, the warning device comprising : - a receiver for receiving a warning signal, a warning element configured to warn a driver, if a warning signal is received and the central processor comprising a central transmitter configured to output warning signals to the receivers of selected ones of the vehicles. In the present context, the central processor may be controller, processor, ASIC, FPGA or the like, such as a combination of processors if desired. The central processor may be a single PC, server or the like or may be a combination of such hardware.

The central processor comprises a central transmitter for outputting warning signals. The central transmitter may comprise one or more transmitters, such as antennas or the like. A central transmitter may be configured to cover a defined area so as to control the behaviour of vehicles in that area. Multiple transmitters may be provided in one area to cover that area. Then, the same warning signals may be output by all transmitters in that area. Alternatively, multiple transmitters may be provided in multiple areas, so that transmitters in one are outputs warning signals to vehicles in that area independently of any warning signals output by transmitters in other areas for the vehicles in these other areas.

Usually, the transmitter(s) are configured to output a wireless signal, such as radio signal, an optical signal, or the like. The signal may be carried on any carrier frequency, if desired. The radio band may be used, as may a band used for mobile telephones (such as GSM), WiFi, radio, TV, remote controlling, wireless communication, or any other frequency or band.

Naturally, if different areas are defined, the signals output in different areas may have different characteristics, such as have different frequencies or be within different frequency bands, so that a receiver may determine which signal, if more signals are available, to receive.

Alternatively, the signals may have therein information as to which area it relates to so that a receiver may discard signals relating to areas not identical to the area in which the receiver is present.

In another embodiment, a signal will relate to an area or a position, so that the receiver may activate the warning element only if the vehicle is in or in the vicinity of the position or area.

Thus, different signals may be output in different areas, or the same signal may be output in all areas.

A receiver is configured to receive a signal from the transmitter. As mentioned, the signal preferably is wireless, so that receiver may be a wireless antenna. The receiver may be configured no not only receive signals but also output signals. This is explained in detail below.

Naturally, a receiver may comprise more than an antenna, such as a processor or controller for controlling the warning device.

Receivers may be able to process the signal and determine whether to operate the warning element or not. This will be described further below. A vehicle may be any type of vehicle, such as a car, lorry, truck, bus, van, motor cycle, moped, or the like. Naturally, the vehicle may also be a boat, vessel, ship or the like.

Any number of vehicles may be communicated with or to. In one situation, the transmitter is configured to emit the signal in a particular area, where the vehicles then are all or some of the vehicles in this area.

In general, the number of vehicles may be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 40 vehicles or more. Naturally, different types of vehicles may be present.

In cars, truck and the like, an emergency button is positioned so as to be visible to the driver. This emergency button may be for use in relation to e.g . an accident in order to warn other vehicles that an unforeseen situation exists, such as that the vehicle has stopped or crashed or the like. This button often is positioned centrally in a front console of the vehicle in order to be visible to and/or operable by all passengers in the vehicle.

Often, the emergency button is operable as a push button in order to activate the turn signals of the vehicle - often both to the left and to the right - in order to signal to the surroundings to pay attention.

Often, the emergency button comprises a button or operable element provided in a housing comprising also e.g. power conductors for the button, as the button or operable element usually comprises light emitting elements in order to be able to output light after having been operated. The button or operable element may also comprise a switch or circuit breaker for controlling the light emitting elements to control when the light emitting elements emit light.

In the emergency button, a warning device is provided which has a receiver and a warning element. As described, the receiver may be or comprise an antenna. If the receiver comprises an antenna, the antenna may be provided in the emergency button, or the antenna may be provided outside of the emergency button, such as remote therefrom or in/on a surface thereof. In one embodiment, the receiver comprises a first antenna for receiving the signals from the central processor. The first antenna may be provided not in the emergency button but in another location of the vehicle where reception is facilitated, such as on the roof or close to the outer surface of the vehicle. The first antenna may then relay the signal received (or a signal corresponding thereto) to a second antenna provided in the emergency button, such as a shorter range antenna, for receiving a the signal from the first antenna. In that manner, the signal may still be received in the emergency button. In the emergency button, a warning element is provided which is configured to warn a driver, if a warning signal is received.

A warning element may be a sound emitter and/or a light emitter. Vibration may also be used, as may other elements which are configured to relay a warning to a person.

The warning element preferably is a light emitter configured to emit light toward at least the driver seat position in the vehicle. Thus, the warning element may emit light when the driver is required to pay attention. A sound emitter may be used in the same manner.

Naturally, the warning element may utilize an existing portion of the vehicle, such as the audio system of the vehicle, so that a sound warning may be emitted by the sound system on the basis of an output from the warning element in the emergency button. Then, the warning element may communicate with the audio system such as via a wireless connection

(Bluetooth for example) or via wires interconnecting the warning element and the audio system .

The central processor is configured to output warning signals to receivers of selected vehicles. In one situation, the signals are output only within an area within which the vehicles are selected and thus should receive the warning signal.

In another situation, the warning signals may comprise therein IDs of the selected vehicles, so that the warning device of the individual vehicle may determine whether the vehicle is selected and thus whether to warn the driver.

In yet another situation, a warning signal may comprise therein indication of a geographical area within vehicles should be warned, where the warning device may compare a location of the vehicle to the geographical area and then determine whether the driver should be warned.

In one embodiment, the central processor is configured to select the one or more vehicles as vehicles positioned within a predetermined area. Position determination or determination of whether the vehicle is within the area or not may be obtained in a number of manners. The vehicle may comprise an element, such as a GPS or other receiver, for determining a position of the vehicle. This position may be transmitted, as is described later, to the central processor. Then, the central processor may transmit warning signals to the vehicle only if the vehicle is within the area. Alternatively, the central processor may output warning signals comprising an indication of the area, so that the warning device, also receiving information relating to the position of the vehicle, may determine whether the vehicle is within the area or not and then warn the driver or not.

The area may be determined in a number of manners, depending on why the warning is relevant. In the preferred embodiment, the warning is issued to vehicles which are in the path of an emergency vehicle. Warning the vehicles in front of the emergency vehicle will allow the drivers to act in time and thus not slow down the emergency vehicle.

In this embodiment, the central processor may be configured to select at least one of the one or more vehicles as vehicles positioned on a predetermined stretch of a predetermined road . This stretch may then be a stretch which an emergency vehicle is about to use. The emergency vehicle may itself comprise a transmitter outputting its position to the central processor so that the area or stretch may be updated with the actual position of the emergency vehicle.

In this context, the "stretch" may be a pre-determined length of a particular road . This length may depend on e.g. a velocity of vehicles on the road, such as a speed limit of the road . It may be preferred that the "stretch" is determined in a manner so that the warning is received at least a minimum period of time before the situation to which a reaction is required. Thus, if an emergency vehicle travels at speed, the "stretch" may be longer than if the vehicle travels at a lower speed .

In addition or alternatively, the "stretch" may also include byways or roads intersecting with a route of the emergency vehicle, as it is desired to also include vehicles on such roads in the warning system . A vehicle approaching from a byroad is also a potential risk to an emergency vehicle.

Then, the area need not be limited to a road or path of a vehicle. The area may simply be determined as all roads or some roads or parts of roads within a geographical area. This area may be determined around an emergency vehicle, in front of the emergency vehicle or around a portion of the route of the emergency vehicle including also an area around the route to include e.g . by-roads.

It may also be preferred that the central processor is configured to select at least one of the one or more vehicles as vehicles approaching the stretch from a byway. In that manner, vehicles may be stopped from accessing the stretch or at least warned in the same manner as the drivers already on the stretch. On narrow roads, drivers in both directions of travel may be warned, if the emergency vehicle needs to travel e.g. at the middle of the road.

On larger roads or one way roads, it may be preferred that the central processor is configured to select at least one of the one or more vehicles as vehicles positioned on the stretch of road and travelling in a predetermined direction. If the road has enough lanes to allow the emergency vehicle to pass without interfering with traffic in the opposite direction, it may be sufficient to warn only vehicles driving in the same direction as the emergency vehicle.

Actually, the central processor may be configured to select at least one of the one or more vehicles as vehicles travelling in the predetermined direction and in a predetermined lane of the road. In multi lane roads, there usually is a pre-defined position for emergency vehicles, such as between second and third lanes. Then, it may suffice to warn vehicles only in those lanes.

In a preferred embodiment: the warning device of at least one vehicle further comprises a vehicle transmitter configured to output a vehicle signal indicating a position of the vehicle and the central processor comprises a central receiver for receiving the vehicle signal(s), the central processor being configured to select the vehicle(s) on the basis of the vehicle signal(s).

In this manner, the central processor will know the position of the vehicle. However, if all or most vehicles comprise the present warning system, the central processor will also be able to determine how much traffic is on the road. Then, a suitable route may be determined for an emergency vehicle.

Naturally, this position information may be used for a number of additional purposes. When the vehicles ID (licence plate and/or VIN) is known as well as its position, road pricing and the like may be rather easily implemented. Stolen or lost vehicles may swiftly be found, as may vehicles sought after by the authorities, such as vehicles used in relation to crime. A stolen license plate will be identified if scanned in an area remote from the position of the actual vehicle, for example. Actually, it is preferred that each assembly or each vehicle has a unique identity, which may be used for both payment purposes (parking, road pricing) as well as vehicle-to-vehicle communication which may be used both to relay information from the central system or one vehicle to another vehicle via one or more other vehicles. The assembly may have a built-in SIM card or other communication device but may in addition to that have its own ID. Vehicle- to-vehicle communication may also be used for exchanging or relaying other information, such as traffic information, congestion information, velocity information, accident positions or the like, so that a driver may be warned long before he would otherwise realize that a traffic jam was building up, for example.

The warning device may be rather simple, such as if it is required to output a warning whenever a warning signal is received. On the other hand, further functionality may be desired, such as if the warning device is to determine whether a warning is to be issued on the basis of a warning signal received. This may be the situation when the warning device is to determine whether the vehicle is selected or not, such as if the vehicle is in a particular area or not. Also, the warning device may be required to determine a particular type of warning on the basis of the warning signal, such as if different warning elements may be operated or selected between. Further below Is described that it may be desired to, as the warning, indicate a direction.

Therefore, the warning device preferably comprises a controller which receives the warning signal or a signal from the receiver and which controls the warning element. This controller may receive power from the emergency button power supply which is usually there, as typical emergency buttons may themselves be able to emit light.

In general, the warning may be made in a number of manners. A simple warning is a sound or flashing light which tells a driver to be aware. Then, the driver may realize the situation and then him/herself decide how to react in the situation.

It may, however, be preferred to output a warning which directs the driver as to what to do. Preferably, the warning element of at least one vehicle is configured to indicate a direction to the driver. Thus, it may be indicated to the driver whether the driver should keep left or right so as to e.g. make way for an emergency vehicle.

A warning may then be the emitting of a sound, such as "keep right", or a light emitter in the shape of an arrow pointing to the right may be operated. Other types of signal may be used, such as a high/low frequency sound, different colour light or the like, as long as the driver is able to interpret the signals. Actually, the central processor may be configured to identify: a first group of vehicles on the stretch and in the direction and driving in a first lane and a second group of vehicles on the stretch and in the direction and driving in a second lane, adjacent to the first lane, indicate to the vehicles in the first group to move in a first direction away from the second lane and indicate to the vehicles in the second group to move in a second direction away from the first lane. In this manner, the vehicles in the two lanes will allow space between the lanes for e.g . an emergency vehicle.

A second aspect relates to a vehicle comprising an emergency button positioned so as to be visible to a driver, the vehicle further comprising a warning device provided in the emergency button, the warning device comprising : - a receiver for receiving a warning signal, a warning element configured to warn a driver, if a warning signal is received .

This vehicle then may be for use in the assembly according to the first aspect. Naturally, all embodiments and considerations related to the first aspect are equally valid in relation to the second aspect of the invention and vice versa. In one embodiment, the emergency button comprises a light emitter and a power supply for the light emitter, the receiver and warning element being configured to receive power from the power supply. Usually, the emergency button is configured to emit light when operated. Thus, power is normally provided in the emergency button. This power supply is preferably used also by the receiver and warning element. The warning element may output any type of warning . Preferably, the warning element comprises a light emitter. The warning element may alternatively or additionally comprise a sound emitter to ensure that the warning is not overlooked . Preferably, the warning element is configured to indicate a direction to the driver, typically left or right. A direction may be indicated by a corresponding sound message or a light signal indicating a direction, such as a left or a right arrow.

Preferably, the warning device further comprises a vehicle transmitter configured to output a signal indicating a position of the vehicle. The advantages thereof are described above. The position may be determined by the warning device itself, such as based on a GPS receiver, a radio receiver or the like, or a signal may be received from another unit of the vehicle, such as a navigation system.

In general, it is desired that both the receiver, the warning element and the controller, if present, is provided in a housing of the emergency button. The receiver, warning element and controller may be provided in the actual housing of the emergency button in a post fitting process in an existing vehicle. Alternatively, a new emergency button may be provided with a housing with the same dimensions so that the emergency button of the vehicle may be replaced by the new emergency button comprising the receiver, warning element and any controller. Then, enabling an existing vehicle to be useful in the assembly is a rather simple task.

The advantage of providing the warning element in the emergency button position is that it already has power therein and is positioned visible to the driver.

Preferred embodiments are described with reference to the drawing, wherein: - Figure 1 illustrates a vehicle with a dashboard,

Figure 2 illustrates the contents of a hazard light of a dashboard,

Figures 3 and 4 illustrate different hazard lights for use in the present invention, and

Figure 5 illustrates lanes of a road as well as vehicles on the road. In figure 1, a vehicle 10 is illustrated having a dashboard 12, a steering wheel and a hazard light 18 usually provided in the centre of the dashboard so as to be visible and reachable by everybody in the car. The hazard light 18 usually is a switch or push button having thereon a red triangle and which when operated will operate the vehicle's indicators to flash to warn other drivers - as well as have the actual hazard light 18 flash inside the car to indicate to the driver and passengers that the flashing and warning is in effect.

In preferred embodiments of the invention, this hazard light button 18 has further capabilities. In figure 2, the hazard light button 18 is illustrated having a power supply 183 connected to a power supply of the vehicle. The power supply 183 supplies not only the flashing light emitter for the usual triangle 185 of the button 18 but also a controller or receiver 181 configured to receive a signal and to, as a response thereto, have another light emitter 184 flash or output light.

The receiver 181 is communicating with a central processor 20, such as via a wireless connection, such as GSM . Alternatively, the vehicles existing communication elements may be used . Newer vehicles already have therein a SIM card for communication of vehicle data to other providers, such as to provide position data, vehicle status or the like to the owner.

The central processor 20 operates to issue warning signals to vehicles within a predetermined area, such as a predetermined stretch R of a road (see figure 5), to pay extra attention. In one situation, this may be in order to have some of the vehicles make space for e.g. an ambulance or a police car.

The central processor 20 may thus operate the light emitter 184 in order to warn the driver that a situation is about to arise which the driver should be aware of.

The desired reaction by the driver may be to move the vehicle to the side of the road to allow an ambulance to pass. When the road has a single lane in each direction, this would normally be the situation. In this situation, vehicles travelling in both directions of the road may be warned to allow space in the middle of the road for the ambulance.

Thus, in one embodiment, the warning output by the hazard light button 18 may be a flashing light using the light emitter 184 (see figure 3 where the button 18' has a light emitter 184) . The light emitter 185 may be used, but this may be misinterpreted by the driver to mean that the vehicles indicator lights are flashing.

Alternatively or additionally, a sound emitter 182 may be operated. Ultimately, the sound emitter 182 may be the stereo of the vehicle, so that 182 may be an output to be coupled to the stereo of the vehicle.

If the road has multiple lanes, as seen in figure 5, the vehicles (3 and 4) may be instructed to allow space in the middle of the two lanes (c and d) so that an ambulance X may pass between them. In this situation, the indication to the driver may not merely be a warning but an indication that the driver should to left or right in order to allow space for the ambulance at the desired track along the road.

Then, the hazard light button 18 may comprise, for example, two light emitting elements 184' as seen in figure 4, where each light emitter illustrates an arrow indicating to which side the driver should go to allow passage of an emergency vehicle.

Also, a driver may be warned if driving on a by-road, e, toward a main road, if an emergency vehicle is about to pass on the main road. Then, the driver may be instructed to not enter the main road until the emergency vehicle has passed. This may again be via the above light emitters or e.g. a separate light emitter illustrating for example a horizontal bar indicating that passage is not recommended.

In order for the system to know which vehicles to receive a warning signal, the central processor 20 may receive, from the vehicles 10, such as from the receivers 181 of the buttons 18, a signal indicating a position of the vehicle 10. This signal may be derived from a GPS of the vehicle, such as a tracker built into the button 18, so as to always know the position of the vehicle. This signal may be fed to the processor 20 from all vehicles. Then, when an area is determined, vehicles within which are to be warned, the positions of the vehicles may be compared to the area, and vehicles within the area may be warned. Then, the warning signal may be as those described above.

Alternatively, the processor may output more general warning signals to all vehicles, such as a warning relating to vehicles within a predetermined area. Then, the vehicles may compare their own position to the area. If the vehicle is within the area, the button 18 may be activated to warn the driver. Again, a GPS or tracker of the vehicle may be used in the determination, but in this situation, the communication between the vehicle and the processor 20 may be one-way only.

When positioning the warning signal and the corresponding electronics in the hazard light button 18, post mounting of the system is very simple, as power is already available therein and as it is already positioned in a position visible to the driver. Also, usually, there is ample room in or behind the button 18 for the electronics illustrated in figure 2, so that the main difference to the driver is the presence of the light emitters and/or the buzzer.