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Title:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR DETECTING ROAD ACCIDENTS, DRIVING STYLES AND FOR FINDING VEHICLES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2013/150557
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A device (1, la, lb) to be installed on board vehicles, designed for automatic detection of road accidents and of the modalities with which a vehicle is driven and for storage of the data detected comprises: first means (2), designed to measure the six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az) of said vehicles; as well as second means (4) for processing and storing the data supplied by said first means (2); wherein said accidents are detected when the combination of said six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az), or their resultant, present characteristics of value and progression that are not compatible with the technical characteristics of said vehicles.

Inventors:
SBIANCHI, Fabio (Via di Trigoria, 321, Roma, I-00128, IT)
ZUCO, Giuseppe (Via Giuseppe Sirtori 69, Roma, I-00149, IT)
AMENDOLAGINE, Marco (Via Capodrise 73, Roma, I-00134, IT)
Application Number:
IT2013/000097
Publication Date:
October 10, 2013
Filing Date:
April 04, 2013
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
OCTO TELEMATICS S.P.A. (Via Lamaro 51, Roma, I-00173, IT)
International Classes:
G07C5/08; G01P15/14; G01P15/18; G07C5/00
Domestic Patent References:
Foreign References:
US20110304447A1
EP1968029A2
US20110202305A1
US20100073493A1
Other References:
ANONYMOUS: "LIS3LV02DQ - MEMS INERTIAL SENSOR - Data Sheet (Part number: CD00047926)", INTERNET CITATION, October 2005 (2005-10), pages 1-42, XP002609618, Retrieved from the Internet: URL:http://www.st.com/stonline/books/pdf/docs/11115.pdf [retrieved on 2010-11-12]
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SARPI, Maurizio (Studio Ferrario Srl, Via Collina 36, Rome, I-00187, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A device (1, la, lb) to be installed on board vehicles, designed for automatic detection of road accidents and of the modalities with which a vehicle is driven and for storage of the data detected, characterized in that it comprises:

• first means (2), designed to measure the six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az) of said vehicles; and

• second means (4) for processing and storing the data supplied by said first means (2);

said accidents being detected when the combination of said six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az) , or their resultant, present characteristics of value and progression that are not compatible with the technical characteristics of said vehicles.

2. The device (1, la, lb) according to Claim 1, characterized in that said first means (2) , designed to measure the six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, x, ay, az) of said vehicles, comprise an inertial system based upon accelerometric or gyroscopic sensors or gyrocompasses .

3. The device (1, la, lb) according to Claim 1, characterized in that it further envisages third means (3) for location, provided with absolute time reference, designed to measure the spatial co-ordinates associated to the device (1) itself and defined with respect to a reference system fixed with respect to the Earth, said third means (3) being of the GPS {Global Positioning System) type, Glonass type, or Galileo type, or a combination of said systems.

4 . The device (1, la, lb) according to Claims 1 to 3, characterized in that said second means (4), for processing and storing the data supplied by said first means (2), comprise a microcomputer.

5. The device (1, la, lb) according to Claim 4, characterized in that said microcomputer (4) is provided with a first algorithm designed to process the accelerometric data read so as to identify the triad of the main axes of inertia of the vehicle and set them in relation with the main axes of inertia of said inertial system ( 2 ) .

6. The device (1) according to Claim 4, characterized in that said microcomputer (4) is provided with a second algorithm designed to process the accelerometric data read so as to detect an accident, said accident being detected when the combination of said six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az) , or their resultant, present characteristics of value and progression that are not compatible with the technical characteristics of said vehicles.

7. The device (1, la, lb) according to Claim 4, characterized in that said microcomputer (4) is provided with a third algorithm designed to process the accelerometric data read so as to enable identification of various driving modalities such as:

• positive or negative longitudinal accelerations of the vehicle;

• variation of the direction of travel of the vehicle;

• variations of the trim attitude of the vehicle (identification of the angles of pitch, roll, and yaw) ; and

• events that are the result of the simultaneous or sequential combination of one or more of the previous modalities.

8. The device (1, la, lb) according to Claims 1 to

7, characterized in that it further comprises fourth means (5) designed to transmit, via radio or with other wireless transmission means (also using the GSM, GPRS, or UMTS cellular network) , the data acquired to a remote data-processing centre that carries out processing thereof .

9. The device (1, la, lb) according to Claims 1 to

8, characterized in that it further comprises fifth means (6) designed to receive, via radio or with other wireless transmission means (also using the GSM, GPRS, or UMTS cellular network) , information from said remote data- processing centre.

10. The device (1, la, lb) according to Claims 1 to 9, characterized in that it further comprises sixth means (7) for power supply, said means (7) comprising a small battery, integrated in the device (1), which guarantees supply of its own circuits even in the absence of connection to the battery of the vehicle, the device (1) being pre-arranged for going into standby when it is not being used, and recharging of its battery taking place automatically when the vehicle housing the device is moving and with the control panel switched on.

11. The device (1, la, lb) according to Claim 10, characterized in that it is pre-arranged for deactivating automatically said fourth means (5), designed for radio transmission of the data acquired to a remote data-processing centre, in the case where said device (1) were disconnected from the battery of the vehicle housing the device.

12. The device (la, lb) according to at least one of Claims 1 to 11, characterized in that it is inserted in a case having a shape such as to be fixed to one of the glazed surfaces of the vehicle.

13. The device (la, lb) according to Claim 12, characterized in that said power-supply means (7) comprise a wiring (7a) for connection to the battery of the vehicle.

14. The device (lb) according to Claim 12, characterized in that said power-supply means (7) comprise a photovoltaic panel (7b) .

15. The device (1, la, lb) according to at least one of Claims 1 to 14, characterized in that it is built to withstand, without corruption of the internal memory, shocks with high intensity of acceleration, up to 50- 60 g.

16. A method for detecting road accidents undergone by vehicles, characterized in that it envisages direct detection of the six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az) of said vehicles, said accidents being detected when the combination of said six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az) , or their resultant, present characteristics of value and progression that are not compatible with the technical characteristics of said vehicles .

17. The method according to Claim 15, characterized in that the frequency of sampling of the values assumed by said six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az) is equal to or higher than 100 Hz, preferably equal to or higher than 1000 Hz.

Description:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR DETECTING ROAD ACCIDENTS, DRIVING

STYLES AND FOR FINDING VEHICLES

* * * * * *

The present invention relates to a device designed for automatic detection of road accidents and of the modalities with which a vehicle is driven (driving habits and style) and for storage of the data detected.

The device is able to locate in real time the vehicle on which it is installed. Moreover, it is able to transmit, via radio, to a remote processing centre, the information stored.

The invention also regards a method, implemented by the device, which envisages direct detection of the six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az) of said vehicle, and their subsequent processing.

It is envisaged that the invention is installed on board vehicles such as cars, small four-wheeled vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, vans, lorries, articulated vehicles, caravans, and buses.

The device is installed on board the vehicle that is to be monitored, said monitoring possibly having purely insurance purposes. The device may be considered a black box .

To save on the insurance policy for motor vehicles, there is an increasing use of a means that consists of a sort of black box, i.e., a device installed on the motor vehicle for detecting the data regarding driving of the vehicle and saving them in the event of possible accidents .

Said device basically comprises a GPS {Global Positioning System) satellite navigation system, a chronometer, and a computer.

The GPS system receives signals from satellites orbiting around the Earth, processing of which enables precise determination of the position of the vehicle on which said system is installed. By differentiating twice the position with respect to time, the device is able to calculate the speed of advance of the vehicle and its acceleration. An accident is detected if the accelerations to which the vehicle is subjected are not compatible with its technical characteristics. In this case, an alarm signal is emitted that can be sent to a remote receiver, which sends a breakdown or rescue crew.

Said device of the known art presents, however, two drawbacks .

A first drawback lies in the fact that processing of the signals is slow and imprecise. In fact, it is necessary in the first place to process the signals coming from the satellites for determining the position, and then it is necessary to perform two subsequent operations of differentiation for determining the accelerations. These operations are executed while the vehicle is moving, and the time necessary for processing markedly limits the sampling frequency of the signals, with the consequence that the precision of calculation of the accelerations may be jeopardized. In fact, an acceleration peak, due to impact against another vehicle or against a fixed obstacle might not be detected properly on account of a sampling frequency that is not sufficiently high. In other words, if the accident is of slight intensity, it might not be detected at all, in so far as the acceleration peak could be markedly flattened owing to insufficient samplings and, hence, not be interpreted as signal of occurrence of an accident.

A second drawback lies in the fact that the GPS system supplies a point position of a vehicle that moves on a generally plane or slightly inclined surface. Processing can hence lead to the determination of just two components of acceleration, not providing any indication on the remaining four.

Paradoxically, if the vehicle were to knock down a safety barrier and end up in a ditch, a device of the known art might not detect any anomaly because the acceleration peak due to the impact against the safety barrier could be too weak to be detected, whilst the subsequent fall into the ditch, which would come about with acceleration "g" if the banks were vertical, would be totally ignored in so far as the GPS system provides approximate indications of the movements over the Earth's surface and not in a direction perpendicular thereto. The accident could be detected in so far as, according to the map, the vehicle would no longer be on the road surface, but in the ditch. However, also this detection technique would be deficient in so far as the vehicle could be removed voluntarily from the road surface. Moreover, the maps are not always sufficiently precise, or else might not be updated. Hence it would not be possible to establish with certainty where the vehicle has stopped.

The present invention overcomes the drawbacks described by proposing a device and a method for detecting accidents according to Claims 1 and 14, respectively.

The device, which is designed for automatic detection of road accidents and of the modalities with which a vehicle is driven and for storage of the data detected, is characterized in that it comprises:

• first means, designed to measure the six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, x, ay, az) referred to a cartesian system fixed with respect to the device; and

• second means for processing and storing the data supplied by said first means;

said accidents being detected when the combination of said six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, x, ay, az) , or their resultant, present characteristics of value and progression that are not compatible with the technical characteristics of said vehicle.

The device moreover advantageously envisages the presence of third means designed to measure the spatial co-ordinates associated to the device itself and defined with respect to a reference system fixed with respect to the Earth, said third means being provided with absolute time reference.

The method according to the invention is characterized in that it envisages direct detection of the six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az) of said vehicle, said accidents being detected when the combination of said six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, x, ay, az) , or their resultant, present characteristics of value and progression that are not compatible with the technical characteristics of said vehicle .

The device measures directly the six components of acceleration, describing completely, and in real time, the behaviour of the vehicle, using a location system for setting in relation the behaviour of the vehicle with the position assumed by the latter.

In other words, the device according to the invention does not detect the possible accident by processing the variation of its position, but directly by processing the six components of acceleration. In the case described of a vehicle that has fallen into a ditch, the device according to the invention would be able to detect the impact against the safety barrier, albeit very small, in so far as the acceleration peak is detected with much greater precision. The subsequent fall into the ditch would be detected in so far as there would be measured a marked variation of the vertical component (az) of the acceleration, even though the other two components (ax, ay) were to be compatible with the technical characteristics of the vehicle. Finally, the accident would be detected also because an anomalous variation of the three components of acceleration (ax, ay, az) regarding rotation about the three axes of the reference system would be detected. This means that if the vehicle, for example, an off-road vehicle, voluntarily enters a dip or crosses a small stream, but its accelerations are compatible with its technical characteristics, the device will not issue any alarm signal, even though the device detects that the vehicle has left the road surface or is in a stream. Instead, the device according to the invention will issue an alarm signal if the vehicle were to end up in a ditch, even in the case where it was not marked on the map. In this case, the components of acceleration and their progression would be somewhat different from the ones that would be detected if the entry into the ditch were voluntary.

The device is then pre-arranged for keeping intact, in the event of an accident, the information recorded in a lapse of time of some tens of seconds before and after impact so as to provide the person responsible with a set of information useful for reconstructing the dynamics thereof .

The device according to the invention is equipped with means designed for radio transmission, by connecting up to the cellular network, in order to communicate the data in real time.

Use of a device according to the invention renders fraud to the detriment of the insurance company far more difficult, so that it is possible to reduce the insurance premium significantly.

If it were to emerge that the driving style of the subject concerned were such as to minimize the risks of accident, the insurance company could propose a considerable reduction in the premium to the virtuous driver, with mutual advantage. In fact, the insurance company would have an edge over its competitors in so far as it would be facilitated in acquiring drivers with a low accident risk.

According to a preferred embodiment, the device according to the invention is produced so as to be contained in a case designed for being fixed, via biadhesive, on one of the glazed surfaces of the vehicle, such as for example, the windscreen. The supply may be via a simple wiring or, preferably, by means of a photovoltaic panel.

The invention will now be described by way of non- limiting illustration, according to a preferred embodiment, with reference to the attached figures, in which :

• Figure 1 shows the block diagram of the device according to the invention; and

• Figures 2 (a, b) show two particular embodiments of the device according to the invention, designed to be fixed to the glazed surfaces of the vehicle.

With reference to Figure 1, designated by (1) is the device according to the invention, represented by a block diagram. Said device (1) comprises:

• means (2), designed to measure the six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, x, ay, az) referred to a cartesian system fixed with respect to the device (1), said means comprising an inertial system based upon accelerometric or gyroscopic sensors or gyrocompasses;

• means (3) designed to measure the spatial co-ordinates associated to the device itself and defined with respect to a reference system fixed with respect to the Earth; said means (3) , which comprise a location system of the GPS (Global Positioning System) , Glonass or Galileo type or a combination of a number of systems, are also provided . with absolute time reference ;

• means (4) for the treatment of the data, for their storage and for associating the aforesaid absolute time reference to the events recorded, said means (4) comprising a microcomputer;

• means (5) designed to transmit, via radio or with other wireless transmission means (also using the GSM, GPRS or UMTS cellular network) , the data acquired to a remote data-processing centre that carries out processing thereof;

• means (6) designed to receive, via radio or with other wireless transmission means (also using the GSM, GPRS, or UMTS cellular network) , information from said remote data-processing centre; and

• means (7) for electrical supply of its own circuits. The device (1) according to the invention is built to withstand, without corruption of the internal memory, shocks with high intensity of acceleration (for example, 50 g or 60 g, g = 9.81 m/s 2 ) .

Said microcomputer (4) processes the data coming from the inertial system (2), through the line (8), and the data coming from the locating means (3) , through the line (9). The microcomputer (4) is provided with a first algorithm for self-calibration that enables identification of the triad of the main axes of inertia of the vehicle and setting thereof in relation with the main axes of inertia of the inertial system (2). Consequently, the device (1) can be installed in any position with respect to the vehicle.

Detection of road accidents and of the driving modalities, such as variations of speed or direction of travel, is made thanks to a continuous monitoring, carried out by the inertial system (2) , of the linear and angular accelerations to which the vehicle is subjected. The monitoring is carried out with periodic readings of the accelerations (for example, with a frequency of 100 Hz or, preferably, 1000 Hz) .

The microcomputer (4) is provided with a second algorithm, designed to process the accelerometric data read. An accident is detected when the combination of the six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az) , or their resultant, has characteristics of value and progression that are not compatible with the technical characteristics of said vehicle.

At the moment when an accident event (or a crash) is detected, in a purposely provided memory of said microcomputer (4) the information of acceleration, speed and position of the vehicle is stored for a period of time (for example, 75 s) that includes a time interval prior to the accident, the time interval in which the accident has occurred, and a time interval subsequent to the accident. Also stored are the date and time of the event .

The microcomputer (4), through the line (10), sends the results of the processing operations to said transmission means (5), which re-transmit them, via radio, to a data-processing centre immediately after recording, or subsequently.

The microcomputer (4) is further provided with a third algorithm for processing the accelerometric data read, said third algorithm enabling identification of various driving modalities, such as, by way of non- exhaustive example:

• positive or negative longitudinal accelerations of the vehicle; • variation of the direction of travel of the vehicle;

• variations of the trim attitude of the vehicle (identification of the angles of pitch, roll, and yaw) ; and

• events that are the result of the simultaneous or sequential combination of one or more of the previous modalities .

A driving characteristic is detected when a certain number of successive samples of the six components of acceleration (ax, ay, az, ax, ay, az) or their resultant presents given characteristics of value and progression. Depending upon the values and the type of progression, the event will be classified in one of the categories of modality already described. At the moment when an event- modality is detected, the fact is recorded, and the information of acceleration of speed and position of the vehicle for the time interval in which the event-modality has occurred, as well as the date and time of the event, may be stored in a purposely provided memory. It is envisaged that the information is transmitted to a data- processing centre via radio immediately after storage, or subsequently.

The device according to the invention is likewise able to transmit, in combination with the location information, the information regarding GSM or UMTS cells to which it connects during the displacements.

This information, sent to the data-processing centre by numerous devices (1) distributed over a territory, enables processing of a geolocated dynamic map of the repeaters for GSM or UMTS communication. This mapping, transmitted by the data-processing centre to the devices (1) present on the territory, makes it possible to carry out location via cell triangulat ion in support of or as an alternative to the location performed via satellite location systems.

Said means (7) for power supply of the device (1) according to the invention may consist of simple wiring for connection to the battery of the vehicle, or else may comprise a small battery, integrated in the device (1), which guarantees supply of its own circuits even in the absence of connection to the battery of the vehicle. In order to prevent drawing-off of energy from the battery of the vehicle, the device (1) is pre-arranged for going into standby when it is not being used, recharging of its battery taking place automatically when the vehicle housing the device is moving and with the control panel switched on.

If the device (1) is provided with said battery of its own for power supply, it is envisaged that, in the case where it were disconnected from the battery of the vehicle, said transmission means (5) will be deactivated. In fact, if the device (1) were removed from its seat and transported elsewhere, its movements would be interpreted as movements of the vehicle. In particular, if it were to slip out of the driver's hand and drop on the floor, the event could be interpreted as occurrence of an accident.

Figures 2 (a, b) illustrate a device according to the invention in accordance with two embodiments designed to be fixed, for example, via biadhesive, to the glazed surfaces of the vehicle. In particular, Figure 2a illustrates the device, designated by (la), provided with power-supply means (7a) that comprise a wiring for connection to the battery of the vehicle, whilst Figure 2b illustrates the device, designated by (lb), the power- supply means of which comprise, in addition to the wiring (7a), also a photovoltaic panel (7b), integrated in the body of the device. Said power-supply means (7a) and (7b) supply the device directly and recharge the internal battery, if present.

The invention has been described, by way of non- limiting example, according to a preferred embodiment. The person skilled in the sector may devise numerous other embodiments, all of which fall within the sphere of protection of the annexed claims.