Muscat: The stress and frustration associated with being caught in any of the dozens of traffic jams on Oman's roads for daily commuters will soon become a fleeting memory as a new driver-assistance system undergoes its final preparations for a global launch.
Bosch, a leading international supplier of automotive technology and services, is currently completing the groundwork for its pioneering Traffic Jam Assistant system—a software programme that can guide vehicles through highway traffic jams.
The new system, which is set to begin production in 2014, will brake, accelerate, and steer completely autonomously at speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour. Thus, it will operate in most stop-and-go situations.
Guido Gring, Vice President of Bosch Automotive Aftermarket, Middle East and Africa, said the new Traffic Jam Assistant will be a huge step forward for fully autonomous driving on Middle-Eastern roads, while also significantly easing stressful and potentially dangerous road-rage situations on Oman's roads.
"Imagine you are stuck in a traffic jam on one of Muscat's busiest roads, or any other tailback in the Middle East, on your daily commute home from work, with at least another hour on the tarmac separating you from the comfort of your couch and family," stated Gring. "You are thinking to yourself: 'I wish I could just let my car drive me home.' Soon that wish will come true.
Cutting edge technology
"The Traffic Jam Assistant is not only a smart innovation in the automotive industry but is also a life-changing solution for millions of road users across the Middle East, who will be able to arrive at their chosen destinations far more relaxed."
Today, adaptive cruise control (ACC) already tracks the vehicles ahead and adapts the distance and speed of the driver's own vehicle accordingly. The Traffic Jam Assistant will additionally integrate a lane-detection camera and electric power steering. The next functional step will include automatic lane changing. This requires two additional features: a rear-mounted radar sensor and a dynamic navigation map.
Following its initial scheduled launch next year, Bosch's Traffic Jam Assistant will be further enhanced to cover faster speeds and more complex driving situations. Eventually, Bosch claims, it will serve as a highway pilot, making fully autonomous driving on highways in any condition a new reality.
The new system, which will be limited to highways with no oncoming traffic and no pedestrians, will come as good news to those commuters who have been victims of or are susceptible to road rage on Omani roads due to the stressful traffic situations.
Road rage study
A study on road rage conducted by the American Psychological Association found that even typically calm, reasonable people can turn into warriors behind the wheel, stating that "when provoked, they yell obscenities, honk and swerve in and out of traffic, and endanger their lives and others."
The same study suggested that in a state of road rage, drivers engage in hostile, aggressive thinking; take more risks on the road; get angry faster; behave more aggressively; have more accidents; and experience more anxiety and impulsiveness.