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Patent Analysis of

Steering assist device

Updated Time 12 June 2019

Patent Registration Data

Publication Number

US10000232

Application Number

US15/158066

Application Date

18 May 2016

Publication Date

19 June 2018

Current Assignee

JTEKT CORPORATION

Original Assignee (Applicant)

JTEKT CORPORATION

International Classification

B62D5/04,B62D15/02,B62D1/28

Cooperative Classification

B62D5/046,B62D1/286,B62D15/025

Inventor

OYA, TOSHIAKI

Patent Images

This patent contains figures and images illustrating the invention and its embodiment.

US10000232 Steering assist 1 US10000232 Steering assist 2 US10000232 Steering assist 3
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Abstract

In a steering assist device, a main lane keep assist current value setting unit sets a main lane keep assist current value that generates main lane keep assist torque according to a lateral deviation and a lateral deviation change rate. A sub lane keep assist current value setting unit sets a sub lane keep assist current value that generates sub lane keep assist torque according to curvature ct of a target travel line.

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Claims

1. A steering assist device, comprising: an electric motor that applies a steering driving force to a steering operation mechanism of a vehicle; and a processor programmed to: obtain a lateral deviation of the vehicle from a target travel line, a lateral deviation change rate, or a rate of change in the lateral deviation per unit time, and curvature of the target travel line; set a steering assist current value corresponding to a target value of steering assist torque; set a main lane keep assist current value that generates main lane keep assist torque according to the lateral deviation and the lateral deviation change rate, based on the lateral deviation and the lateral deviation change rate obtained; set a sub lane keep assist current value that generates sub lane keep assist torque according to the curvature, based on the curvature obtained; calculate a target current value by using the set steering assist current value, the set main lane keep assist current value, and the set sub lane keep assist current value; and drivingly control the electric motor based on the calculated target current value.

2. The steering assist device according to claim 1, wherein the processor is further programmed to calculate the main lane keep assist current value that makes the lateral deviation and the lateral deviation change rate closer to zero.

3. The steering assist device according to claim 2, wherein the processor is further programmed to: calculate a first lane keep assist current value based on the obtained lateral deviation, calculate a second lane keep assist current value based on the obtained lateral deviation change rate, and calculate the main lane keep assist current value by adding the calculated first lane keep assist current value and the calculated second lane keep assist current value.

4. The steering assist device according to claim 3, wherein the processor is further programmed to: calculate the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* based on a relationship between y and Ir1* as given by a function Ir1*=a1·yb1 when b1 is set to an odd number, and calculate the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* based on the relationship between y and Ir1* as given by the function Ir1*=a1·yb1 for y≥0 and given by a function Ir1*=−a1·yb1 for y<0 when b1 is set to an even number, and calculate the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* based on a relationship between dy/dt and Ir2* as given by a function Ir2*=a2·(dy/dt)b2 when b2 is set to an odd number, and calculate the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* based on the relationship between dy/dt and Ir2* as given by the function Ir2*=a2·(dy/dt)b2 for dy/dt≥0 and given by a function Ir2*=−a2·(dy/dt)b2 for dy/dt<0 when b2 is set to an even number, where y represents the obtained lateral deviation, dy/dt represents the obtained lateral deviation change rate, Ir1* represents the first lane keep assist current value, Ir2* represents the second lane keep assist current value, a1 and a2 represent constants that are both either a positive value or a negative value, b1 represents a degree of a natural number of two or larger, and b2 represents a degree of a natural number smaller than b1.

5. The steering assist device according to claim 4, wherein the processor is further programmed to: calculate the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* based on the relationship between y and Ir1* as given by a function Ir1*=a1·y3, and calculate the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* based on the relationship between dy/dt and Ir2* as given by a function Ir2*=a2·(dy/dt).

6. The steering assist device according to claim 2, further comprising: a vehicle speed detector that detects a vehicle speed; wherein the processor is further programmed to: calculate a first lane keep assist current value based on the obtained lateral deviation, calculate a second lane keep assist current value based on the obtained lateral deviation change rate, calculate a third lane keep assist current value by adding the calculated first lane keep assist current value and the calculated second lane keep assist current value, and calculate the main lane keep assist current value by multiplying the calculated third lane keep assist current value by gain according to the vehicle speed detected by the vehicle speed detector.

7. The steering assist device according to claim 1, further comprising: a steering torque detector that detects steering torque; wherein the processor is further programmed to: calculate the main lane keep assist current value that makes the lateral deviation and the lateral deviation change rate closer to zero, and set a final main lane keep assist current value to the calculated main lane keep assist current value when a steering direction obtained from the detected steering torque detected by the steering torque detector is different from a steered direction corresponding to the calculated main lane keep assist current value, and that sets the final main lane keep assist current value to zero when the steering direction obtained from the detected steering torque is the same as the steered direction corresponding to the main lane keep assist current value.

8. The steering assist device according to claim 7, the processor is further programmed to: set control steering torque based on the detected steering torque detected by the steering torque detector; wherein the control steering torque is set to zero when an absolute value of the detected steering torque is equal to or smaller than a predetermined value, and the control steering torque is set to the same value as the detected steering torque when the absolute value of the detected steering torque is larger than the predetermined value, and set the final main lane keep assist current value to the calculated main lane keep assist current value when a steering direction according to the set control steering torque is different from the steered direction corresponding to the calculated main lane keep assist current value, and sets the final main lane keep assist current value to zero when the steering direction according to the control steering torque is the same as the steered direction corresponding to the main lane keep assist current value.

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Claim Tree

  • 1
    1. A steering assist device, comprising:
    • an electric motor that applies a steering driving force to a steering operation mechanism of a vehicle
    • and a processor programmed to: obtain a lateral deviation of the vehicle from a target travel line, a lateral deviation change rate, or a rate of change in the lateral deviation per unit time, and curvature of the target travel line
    • set a steering assist current value corresponding to a target value of steering assist torque
    • set a main lane keep assist current value that generates main lane keep assist torque according to the lateral deviation and the lateral deviation change rate, based on the lateral deviation and the lateral deviation change rate obtained
    • set a sub lane keep assist current value that generates sub lane keep assist torque according to the curvature, based on the curvature obtained
    • calculate a target current value by using the set steering assist current value, the set main lane keep assist current value, and the set sub lane keep assist current value
    • and drivingly control the electric motor based on the calculated target current value.
    • 2. The steering assist device according to claim 1, wherein
      • the processor is further programmed to calculate the main lane keep assist current value that makes the lateral deviation and the lateral deviation change rate closer to zero.
    • 7. The steering assist device according to claim 1, further comprising:
      • a steering torque detector that detects steering torque
      • wherein the processor is further programmed to: calculate the main lane keep assist current value that makes the lateral deviation and the lateral deviation change rate closer to zero, and set a final main lane keep assist current value to the calculated main lane keep assist current value when a steering direction obtained from the detected steering torque detected by the steering torque detector is different from a steered direction corresponding to the calculated main lane keep assist current value, and that sets the final main lane keep assist current value to zero when the steering direction obtained from the detected steering torque is the same as the steered direction corresponding to the main lane keep assist current value.
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Description

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

The disclosure of Japanese Patent Application No. 2015-106711 filed on May 26, 2015 including the specification, drawings and abstract, is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to steering assist devices for vehicles, and more particularly to steering assist devices that prevent a running vehicle from deviating from its lane.

2. Description of the Related Art

If a vehicle deviates from its lane on a highway etc. due to driver's carelessness or a road surface condition, there is a risk that the vehicle may contact other vehicle(s) or a guardrail. As a solution, lane departure warning systems are developed which obtain road surface information and relative position information between the vehicle and its lane based on an image shot by a camera mounted on the vehicle and warn the driver when the vehicle is about to deviate from its lane. See, e.g., Japanese Patent Application Publication No. 2013-212839 (JP 2013-212839 A), Japanese Patent No. 4292562 (JP 4292562 B), and Japanese Patent Application Publication No. H11-34774 (JP H11-34774 A).

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is one object of the present invention to provide a steering assist device that can guide a vehicle so that the vehicle avoids deviating from its lane and that makes it easier for the vehicle to travel along a target travel line on a curved path where steering torque is required to keep the vehicle turning.

According to one aspect of the present invention, a steering assist device includes: an electric motor that applies a steering driving force to a steering operation mechanism of a vehicle; an information obtaining unit that obtains a lateral deviation of the vehicle from a target travel line, a lateral deviation change rate, or a rate of change in the lateral deviation per unit time, and curvature of the target travel line; a steering assist current value setting unit that sets a steering assist current value corresponding to a target value of steering assist torque; a main lane keep assist current value setting unit that sets a main lane keep assist current value that generates main lane keep assist torque according to the lateral deviation and the lateral deviation change rate, based on the lateral deviation and the lateral deviation change rate obtained by the information obtaining unit; a sub lane keep assist current value setting unit that sets a sub lane keep assist current value that generates sub lane keep assist torque according to the curvature, based on the curvature obtained by the information obtaining unit; a target current value calculation unit that calculates a target current value by using the steering assist current value set by the steering assist current value setting unit, the main lane keep assist current value set by the main lane keep assist current value setting unit, and the sub lane keep assist current value set by the sub lane keep assist current value setting unit; and a control unit that drivingly controls the electric motor based on the target current value calculated by the target current value calculation unit.

The steering assist device of the above aspect can generate the main lane keep assist torque according to the lateral deviation and the lateral deviation change rate. The vehicle can thus be guided toward the target travel line. The vehicle can be guided so as to make the lateral centerline of the vehicle parallel to the target travel line when the vehicle is traveling near the target travel line. The vehicle can thus be guided so as to avoid deviating from its lane.

The steering assist device of the above aspect can generate the sub lane keep assist torque according to the curvature of the target travel line. When the vehicle is traveling on a curved path where steering torque is required to keep the vehicle turning, the steering torque that keeps the vehicle turning can be generated as the sub lane keep assist torque by the electric motor. This makes it easier for the vehicle to travel along the target travel line even on a curved path.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and further features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following description of example embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein like numerals are used to represent like elements and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing a schematic configuration of an electric power steering system to which a steering assist device according to an embodiment of the present invention is applied;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing an electrical configuration of an electronic control unit (ECU);

FIG. 3 is a graph showing an example of setting a steering assist current value Is* with respect to detected steering torque T;

FIG. 4A is a schematic diagram illustrating operation of an information obtaining unit;

FIG. 4B is a schematic diagram illustrating an example of a method for obtaining curvature ct of a target travel line Ls;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing an electrical configuration of a main lane keep assist current value setting unit;

FIG. 6A is a graph showing an example of the relationship of a first lane keep assist current value Ir1* to a lateral deviation y;

FIG. 6B is a graph showing another example of the relationship of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* to the lateral deviation y;

FIG. 6C is a graph showing still another example of the relationship of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* to the lateral deviation y;

FIG. 7A is a graph showing an example of the relationship of a second lane keep assist current value Ir2* to a lateral deviation change rate dy/dt;

FIG. 7B is a graph showing another example of the relationship of the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* to the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt;

FIG. 8 is a graph showing an example of setting vehicle speed gain G with respect to a vehicle speed V;

FIG. 9 is a graph showing the relationship between the curvature ct and a sub lane keep assist current value Isr*;

FIG. 10 is a block diagram showing a modification of the main lane keep assist current value setting unit; and

FIG. 11 is a graph showing the relationship between the detected steering torque T and control steering torque Ts.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

An embodiment of the present invention will be described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing a schematic configuration of an electric power steering system to which a steering assist device according to an embodiment of the present invention is applied.

An electric power steering system (EPS) 1 includes a steering wheel 2 serving as a steering member that steers a vehicle, a steering operation mechanism 4 that steers steered wheels 3 in accordance with the rotation of the steering wheel 2, and a steering assist mechanism 5 that assists driver's steering operation. The steering wheel 2 and the steering operation mechanism 4 are mechanically coupled to each other via a steering shaft 6 and an intermediate shaft 7.

The steering shaft 6 includes an input shaft 8 coupled to the steering wheel 2 and an output shaft 9 coupled to the intermediate shaft 7. The input shaft 8 and the output shaft 9 are coupled to each other via a torsion bar 10 so as to be rotatable relative to each other.

A torque sensor 11 is disposed around the torsion bar 10. The torque sensor 11 detects steering torque T applied to the steering wheel 2, based on the relative rotation displacement between the input shaft 8 and the output shaft 9. For example, in the present embodiment, the torque sensor 11 detects torque for steering to the right as positive steering torque T and detects torque for steering to the left as negative steering torque T. The larger the absolute value of the detected steering torque T is, the larger the magnitude of the steering torque T is.

The steering operation mechanism 4 is a rack and pinion mechanism including a pinion shaft 13 and a rack shaft 14 serving as a steering operation shaft. The steered wheels 3 are each coupled to corresponding one of the ends of the rack shaft 14 via a tie rod 15 and a knuckle arm (not shown). The pinion shaft 13 is coupled to the intermediate shaft 7. The pinion shaft 13 rotates in accordance with the steering operation of the steering wheel 2. A pinion 16 is coupled to the tip end (the lower end in FIG. 1) of the pinion shaft 13.

The rack shaft 14 extends linearly in the lateral direction of the vehicle. The rack shaft 14 has a rack 17 in its intermediate portion in the axial direction. The rack 17 meshes with the pinion 16. The pinion 16 and the rack 17 convert rotation of the pinion shaft 13 to axial movement of the rack shaft 14. The steered wheels 3 can be steered by moving the rack shaft 14 in the axial direction.

When the steering wheel 2 is rotated by driver's steering operation, this rotation of the steering wheel 2 is transmitted to the pinion shaft 13 via the steering shaft 6 and the intermediate shaft 7. Rotation of the pinion shaft 13 is converted to axial movement of the rack shaft 14 by the pinion 16 and the rack 17. The steered wheels 3 are thus steered.

The steering assist mechanism 5 includes a steering assist electric motor 18 and a speed reduction mechanism 19. The electric motor 18 generates a steering assist force (steering assist torque), and the speed reduction mechanism 19 transmits the output torque of the electric motor 18 to the steering operation mechanism 4. The speed reduction mechanism 19 is a worm gear mechanism that includes a worm shaft 20 and a worm wheel 21 meshing with the worm shaft 20. The speed reduction mechanism 19 is accommodated in a gear housing 22 serving as a transmission mechanism housing.

The worm shaft 20 is rotationally driven by the electric motor 18. The worm wheel 21 is coupled to the steering shaft 6 so as to be rotatable in the same direction as the steering shaft 6. The worm wheel 21 is rotationally driven by the worm shaft 20.

When the worm shaft 20 is rotationally driven by the electric motor 18, the worm wheel 21 is rotationally driven and the steering shaft 6 is rotated accordingly. The rotation of the steering shaft 6 is transmitted to the pinion shaft 13 via the intermediate shaft 7. Rotation of the pinion shaft 13 is converted to axial movement of the rack shaft 14, whereby the steered wheels 3 are steered. That is, the steered wheels 3 are steered by rotationally driving the worm shaft 20 by the electric motor 18. The electric motor 18 is a motor that generates a steering driving force for steering the steered wheels 3.

The vehicle is provided with a vehicle speed sensor 23 that detects the vehicle speed V. A charge coupled device (CCD) camera 24 is also mounted on the vehicle. The CCD camera 24 shoots the road ahead in the direction in which the vehicle is traveling.

The steering torque T detected by the torque sensor 11, the vehicle speed V detected by the vehicle speed sensor 23, and an image signal output from the CCD camera 24 are input to an electronic control unit (ECU) 12. The ECU 12 controls the electric motor 18 based on these input signals.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing an electrical configuration of the ECU 12.

The ECU 12 includes a microcomputer 31, a drive circuit (inverter circuit) 32, and a current detection circuit 33. The microcomputer 31 controls the electric motor 18. The drive circuit 32 is controlled by the microcomputer 31 to supply electric power to the electric motor 18. The current detection circuit 33 detects a motor current (actual current value) I flowing in the electric motor 18.

The microcomputer 31 includes a central processing unit (CPU) and a memory (a read only memory (ROM), a random access memory (RAM), a nonvolatile memory, etc.). The microcomputer 31 functions as a plurality of functional processing units by executing a predetermined program. The plurality of functional processing units include a steering assist current value setting unit 41, an information obtaining unit 42, a lane keep assist current value setting unit 43, a target current value calculation unit 44, a current deviation calculation unit 45, a proportional-integral (PI) control unit 46, and a pulse width modulation (PWM) control unit 47.

The steering assist current value setting unit 41 sets a steering assist current value Is* that is a motor current value corresponding to a target value of the steering assist torque. The steering assist current value setting unit 41 sets the steering assist current value Is* based on the steering torque T detected by the torque sensor 11 and the vehicle speed V detected by the vehicle speed sensor 23. FIG. 3 shows an example of setting the steering assist current value Is* with respect to the detected steering torque T. For example, the detected steering torque T takes a positive value in the case where it is the torque for steering to the right, and takes a negative value in the case where it is the torque for steering to the left. The steering assist current value Is* is set to a positive value when a steering assist force for steering to the right should be generated by the electric motor 18, and is set to a negative value when a steering assist force for steering to the left should be generated by the electric motor 18.

The steering assist current value Is* takes a positive value when the detected steering torque T has a positive value, and takes a negative value when the detected steering torque T has a negative value. The steering assist current value Is* is set to zero when the detected steering torque T has a very small value in the range of −T1 to T1 (torque dead band) (e.g., T1=0.4 N·m). In the case where the detected steering torque T is out of the range of −T1 to T1, the steering assist current value Is* is set so that its absolute value increases as the absolute value of the detected steering torque T increases. The steering assist current value Is* is set so that its absolute value decreases as the vehicle speed V detected by the vehicle speed sensor 23 increases. A large steering assist force can thus be generated when the vehicle is traveling at low speeds, and the steering assist force can be reduced when the vehicle is traveling at high speeds.

As shown in FIG. 4A, the information obtaining unit 42 recognizes a pair of lane marking lines (white lines) Ll, Lr indicating a lane in which a vehicle 100 is traveling and recognizes the lane in which the vehicle 100 is traveling, based on an image shot by the CCD camera 24. The information obtaining unit 42 sets a target travel line Ls of the vehicle 100 within the recognized lane. In the present embodiment, the target travel line Ls is set in the middle of the width of the vehicle's lane. The information obtaining unit 42 obtains a lateral deviation y of the vehicle 100 from the target travel line Ls, a lateral deviation change rate dy/dt, or a rate of change in lateral deviation y per unit time, and curvature ct of the target travel line Ls.

The lateral deviation y of the vehicle 100 represents the distance from a reference position C of the vehicle 100 to the target travel line Ls as viewed in plan. The reference position C of the vehicle 100 may be the position of the center of gravity of the vehicle 100 or may be the position where the CCD camera 24 is placed in the vehicle 100. In the present embodiment, the lateral deviation y is set so that the sign of the lateral deviation y is positive if the reference position C of the vehicle 100 is located on the right side of the target travel line Ls, and is negative if the reference position C of the vehicle 100 is located on the left side of the target travel line Ls, as viewed in the direction in which the vehicle 100 is traveling.

The lateral deviation change rate dy/dt may be the deviation (y(t)−y(t−Δt)) between a lateral deviation y(t) obtained this time and a lateral deviation y(t−Δt) obtained a predetermined unit time Δt ago. The lateral deviation change rate dy/dt may be the deviation (y(t+Δt)−y(t)) between a predicted lateral deviation y(t+Δt) after the predetermined unit time Δt and the lateral deviation y(t) obtained this time. The predicted lateral deviation y(t+Δt) may be obtained in view of the vehicle speed, the yaw angle, etc.

The lateral deviation change rate dy/dt may be the deviation (y(t+Δtx+Δt)−y(t+Δtx)) between a predicted lateral deviation y(t+Δtx) at time t1 after a predetermined time Δtx and a predicted lateral deviation y(t+Δtx+Δt) at time t2, the predetermined unit time Δt after time t1. The predicted lateral deviations y(t+Δtx), y(t+Δtx+Δt) may be obtained in view of the vehicle speed, the yaw angle, etc. Since a method for calculating or predicting the lateral deviation y of a vehicle by shooting the road ahead in the direction in which the vehicle is traveling is known in the art, as described in JP 2013-212839 A, JP 4292562 B, JP H11-34774 A, etc., description thereof will be omitted.

The curvature et of the target travel line Ls refers to the degree to which the target travel line Ls is curved. The curvature ct of the target travel line Ls is defined as one divided by the radius of curvature. A path with a gentler curve has a larger radius of curvature and therefore has smaller curvature ct. For example, the information obtaining unit 42 obtains the curvature ct of the target travel line Ls as follows.

As shown in FIG. 4B, the information obtaining unit 42 recognizes a pair of lane marking lines (white lines) Ll, Lr indicating a lane in which the vehicle 100 is traveling and recognizes the lane in which the vehicle 100 is traveling, based on an image shot by the CCD camera 24. For example, the information obtaining unit 42 estimates coordinates Q1(xc1, yc1), Q2(xc2, yc2), Q3(xc3, yc3) of three points Q1, Q2, Q3 on the white line Ll, where yc represents a position coordinate in the left-right direction (the lateral direction of the vehicle 100) with respect to the reference position C of the vehicle 100, and xc represents a position coordinate in the longitudinal direction of the vehicle 100 with respect to the reference position C of the vehicle 100. In this example, the point Q1 is the estimated position on the white line Ll which corresponds to the current position of the vehicle 100. The point Q2 is the estimated position on the white line Ll which corresponds to the position where the vehicle 100 is to be located a predetermined time after the point Q1. The point Q3 is the estimated position on the white line Ll which corresponds to the position where the vehicle 100 is to be located a predetermined time after the point Q2.

The information obtaining unit 42 then obtains the coordinates of a point P where a perpendicular bisector of a line segment connecting the points Q1, Q2 intersects a perpendicular bisector of a line segment connecting the points Q2, Q3. The information obtaining unit 42 obtains the distance between the points P, Q1 as the radius of curvature r of the white line Ll, and obtains the curvature ct of the white line Ll by dividing one by the radius of curvature r. The information obtaining unit 42 regards the curvature ct of the white line Ll thus obtained as the curvature ct of the target travel line Ls.

The curvature ct of the target travel line Ls may be obtained by other methods.

Referring back to FIG. 2, the lane keep assist current value setting unit 43 sets a lane keep assist current value Ir* based on the lateral deviation y, the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt, and the curvature ct. The lane keep assist current value Ir* is a value that is used to cause the vehicle 100 to travel along the target travel line Ls. Operation of the lane keep assist current value setting unit 43 will be described in detail later.

The target current value calculation unit 44 calculates a target current value I* by adding the lane keep assist current value Ir* set by the lane keep assist current value setting unit 43 to the steering assist current value Is* set by the steering assist current value setting unit 41. The current deviation calculation unit 45 calculates the deviation between the target current value I* obtained by the target current value calculation unit 44 and the actual current value I detected by the current detection circuit 33 (current deviation ΔI=I*−I).

The PI control unit 46 generates a drive command value by performing a PI operation on the current deviation ΔI calculated by the current deviation calculation unit 45. The drive command value is a value that is used to control the current I flowing in the electric motor 18 toward the target current value I*. The PWM control unit 47 generates a PWM control signal having a duty cycle corresponding to the drive command value and supplies the PWM control signal to the drive circuit 32. Electric power corresponding to the drive command value is thus supplied to the electric motor 18.

The current deviation calculation unit 45 and the PI control unit 46 form a current feedback controller. The current feedback controller serves to control the motor current I flowing in the electric motor 18 toward the target current value I*.

The configuration and operation of the lane keep assist current value setting unit 43 will be described in detail. As shown in FIG. 2, the lane keep assist current value setting unit 43 includes a main lane keep assist current value setting unit 51, a sub lane keep assist current value setting unit 52, and an addition unit 53.

The main lane keep assist current value setting unit 51 sets a main lane keep assist current value Imr* that generates main lane keep assist torque according to the lateral deviation y and the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt. In the present embodiment, the main lane keep assist current value setting unit 51 sets the main lane keep assist current value Imr* corresponding to the main lane keep assist torque that makes the lateral deviation y and the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt closer to zero.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing an electrical configuration of the main lane keep assist current value setting unit 51. The main lane keep assist current value setting unit 51 includes a first current value calculation unit 61, a second current value calculation unit 62, an addition unit 63, a vehicle speed gain setting unit 64, and a multiplication unit 65.

The first current value calculation unit 61 calculates a first lane keep assist current value Ir1* based on the lateral deviation y. The second current value calculation unit 62 calculates a second lane keep assist current value Ir2* based on the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt. The addition unit 63 calculates a third lane keep assist current value Ir3* (=Ir1*+Ir2*) by adding the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* calculated by the first current value calculation unit 61 and the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* calculated by the second current value calculation unit 62. The vehicle speed gain setting unit 64 sets vehicle speed gain G according to the vehicle speed V. The multiplication unit 65 calculates the main lane keep assist current value Imr* (=G·(Ir1*+Ir2*)) by multiplying the third lane keep assist current value Ir3* (=Ir1*+Ir2*) calculated by the addition unit 63 by the vehicle speed gain G set by the vehicle speed gain setting unit 64. The main lane keep assist current value Imr* is applied to the addition unit 53.

The first current value calculation unit 61, the second current value calculation unit 62, and the vehicle speed gain setting unit 64 will be specifically described.

The first current value calculation unit 61 calculates the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* based on a map or an arithmetic expression that represents the relationship of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* to the preset lateral deviation y. The second current value calculation unit 62 calculates the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* based on a map or an arithmetic expression that represents the relationship of the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* to the preset lateral deviation change rate dy/dt.

It is preferable that the first current value calculation unit 61 and the second current value calculation unit 62 calculate the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* and the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* as follows, where a1 and a2 represent constants of the same sign, b1 represents a degree of a natural number of two or larger, and b2 represents a degree of a natural number smaller than b1.

In the case where b1 is set to an odd number, it is preferable that the first current value calculation unit 61 calculate the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* based on the relationship between y and Ir1* as given by the function Ir1*=a1·yb1. In the case where b1 is set to an even number, it is preferable that the first current value calculation unit 61 calculate the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* based on the relationship between y and Ir1* as given by the function Ir1*=a1·yb1 for y≥0 and given by the function Ir1*=−a1·yb1 for y<0.

In the case where b2 is set to an odd number, it is preferable that the second current value calculation unit 62 calculate the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* based on the relationship between dy/dt and Ir2* as given by the function Ir2*=a2·(dy/dt)b2. In the case where b2 is set to an even number, it is preferable that the second current value calculation unit 62 calculate the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* based on the relationship between dy/dt and Ir2* as given by the function Ir2*=a2·(dy/dt)b2 for dy/dt≥0 and given by the function Ir2*=−a2˜(dy/dt)b2 for dy/dt<0.

As described above, in the present embodiment, the steering assist current value Is* is set to a positive value when a steering assist force for steering to the right should be generated by the electric motor 18, and is set to a negative value when a steering assist force for steering to the left should be generated by the electric motor 18. The lateral deviation y is set so that the sign of the lateral deviation y is positive if the reference position of the vehicle is located on the right side of the target travel line Ls, and is negative if the reference position of the vehicle is located on the left side of the target travel line Ls, as viewed in the direction in which the vehicle is traveling. In the case where the sign of the lateral deviation y is set in this manner, the constants a1, a2 are set to negative values.

In the case where both the sign of the steering assist current value Is* and the sign of the lateral deviation y are set in the opposite manner to the present embodiment, the constants a1, a2 are also set to negative values.

On the other hand, in the case where the sign of the steering assist current value Is* is set in a manner similar to the present embodiment and the sign of the lateral deviation y is set in the opposite manner to the present embodiment, or in the case where the sign of the steering assist current value Is* is set in the opposite manner to the present embodiment and the sign of the lateral deviation y is set in a manner similar to the present embodiment, the constants a1, a2 are set to positive values.

The reason why it is preferable that the first current value calculation unit 61 and the second current value calculation unit 62 calculate the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* and the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* in the manner described above will be described.

In general, in the case where a is a constant in the function given by f(x)=axb (b represents a degree of a natural number), the absolute value of f(x) increases as the absolute value of x increases. In the case where the value of b is two or larger, the average rate of change increases as the absolute value of x increases. The average rate of change is the amount of change in f(x) divided by the amount of change in x.

In the case where the value of b1 is two or larger, the absolute value of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* increases as the absolute value of the lateral deviation y increases, and the average rate of change (rate of increase in absolute value of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1*) increases as the absolute value of the lateral deviation y increases. The vehicle can therefore be more rapidly guided toward the target travel line (in the present embodiment, toward the middle of the width of the vehicle's lane).

In the function given by f(x)=axb, the average rate of change in the range where the absolute value of x is smaller than one decreases as the value of b increases. The average rate of change in the range where the absolute value of x is equal to or larger than one increases as the value of b increases.

When a1 is equal to a2 and b1 is larger than b2, the average rate of change in first lane keep assist current value Ir1* in the range where the absolute value of the lateral deviation y is smaller than one is lower than that in second lane keep assist current value Ir2* in the range where the absolute value of the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt is smaller than one. The average rate of change in first lane keep assist current value Ir1* in the range where the absolute value of the lateral deviation y is larger than one is higher than that in second lane keep assist current value Ir2* in the range where the absolute value of the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt is larger than one.

Accordingly, when the reference position of the vehicle is located in an area away from the target travel line, the function to make the lateral deviation y closer to zero by the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* tends to be stronger than that to make the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt closer to zero by the second lane keep assist current value Ir2*, even if the sign of the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* is opposite to that of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1*. The vehicle can therefore be guided toward the target travel line (in the present embodiment, toward the middle of the width of the vehicle's lane) even if the sign of the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* is opposite to that of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1*.

The second lane keep assist current value Ir2* according to the magnitude of the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt is obtained regardless of the value of the lateral deviation y. The vehicle can therefore be guided so as to make the lateral centerline of the vehicle parallel to the target travel line, even if the reference position of the vehicle is located in an area close to the target travel line.

In the present embodiment, the first current value calculation unit 61 calculates the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* based on a map storing the relationship of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* to the lateral deviation y, as shown in FIG. 6A, or an arithmetic expression representing this relationship. In the example of FIG. 6A, the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* is represented by the cubic function Ir1*=a1·y3, where a1 is a negative constant. That is, this function corresponds to the case where a1 is negative and b1 is three.

For example, the first current value calculation unit 61 may calculate the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* based on a map storing the relationship of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* to the lateral deviation y, as shown in FIG. 6B, or an arithmetic expression representing this relationship. The curve shown in FIG. 6B is created by translating the curve in the region where Ir1* is zero or larger in FIG. 6A in the direction of the abscissa by −A (A>0) and translating the curve in the region where Ir1* is smaller than zero in FIG. 6A in the direction of the abscissa by +A. In the curve of FIG. 6B, a dead band where the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* is zero is set in the range where the lateral deviation y is −A (A>0) to A.

For example, the first current value calculation unit 61 may calculate the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* based on a map storing the relationship of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* to the lateral deviation y, as shown in FIG. 6C, or an arithmetic expression representing this relationship. In the example of FIG. 6C, the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* is given by the quadratic function Ir1*=a1·y2 for y≥0 and is given by the quadratic function Ir1*=−a1·y2 for y<0, where a1 is a negative constant. This function corresponds to the case where a1 is negative and b1 is two.

In the present embodiment, the second current value calculation unit 62 calculates the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* based on a map storing the relationship of the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* to the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt, as shown in FIG. 7A, or an arithmetic expression representing this relationship. In the example of FIG. 7A, the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* is represented by the linear function Ir2*=a2·dy/dt, where a2 is a negative constant. That is, this function corresponds to the case where a2 is negative and b2 is one. A dead band where the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* is zero may be set in the range where the absolute value of the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt is close to zero.

For example, the second current value calculation unit 62 may calculate the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* based on a map storing the relationship of the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* to the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt, as shown in FIG. 7B, or an arithmetic expression representing this relationship. In the example of FIG. 7B, the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* is given by the quadratic function Ir2*=a2·(dy/dt)2 for dy/dt≥0 and is given by the quadratic function Ir2*=−a2·(dy/dt)2 for dy/dt<0, where a2 is a negative constant. This function corresponds to the case where a2 is negative and b2 is two.

Referring back to FIG. 5, the vehicle speed gain setting unit 64 sets the vehicle speed gain G based on the vehicle speed V detected by the vehicle speed sensor 23. FIG. 8 shows an example of setting the vehicle speed gain G with respect to the vehicle speed V. In the example of FIG. 8, the vehicle speed gain G is fixed to zero in the range where the vehicle speed V is close to zero, and is fixed to one in the range where the vehicle speed V is higher than a predetermined value. When the vehicle speed V is in the intermediate range, the vehicle speed gain G is set according to the characteristics in which the vehicle speed gain G increases from zero to one with the vehicle speed V.

The main lane keep assist current value Imr* set by the main lane keep assist current value setting unit 51 is applied to the addition unit 53 (see FIG. 2).

Referring back to FIG. 2, the sub lane keep assist current value setting unit 52 sets a sub lane keep assist current value Isr* that generates sub lane keep assist torque according to the curvature ct of the target travel line Ls. When the vehicle is traveling on a curved path, steering torque is required in order to keep the vehicle turning. The sub lane keep assist current value Isr* is a current value that causes the electric motor 18 to generate the steering torque required to keep the vehicle turning as the sub lane keep assist torque when the vehicle is traveling on a curved path.

FIG. 9 shows an example of setting the sub lane keep assist current value Isr* with respect to the curvature ct of the target travel line Ls. The curvature ct takes a positive value in the case where the target travel line Ls is a path curved in the right-turn direction as viewed in the direction in which the vehicle is traveling, and takes a negative value in the case where the target travel line Ls is a path curved in the left-turn direction as viewed in the direction in which the vehicle is traveling. The sub lane keep assist current value Isr* is set to zero when the curvature ct is zero. The sub lane keep assist current value Isr* is set to a positive value when the curvature ct is positive, and is set to a negative value when the curvature ct is negative. The sub lane keep assist current value Isr* is set so that its absolute value increases as the absolute value of the curvature ct increases. The sub lane keep assist current value Isr* set by the sub lane keep assist current value setting unit 52 is applied to the addition unit 53.

The addition unit 53 calculates the lane keep assist current value Ir* by adding the main lane keep assist current value Imr* and the sub lane keep assist current value Isr*. This lane keep assist current value Ir* is applied to the target current value calculation unit 44.

In the present embodiment, the main lane keep assist current value setting unit 51 sets the main lane keep assist current value Imr* that generates the main lane keep assist torque that makes the lateral deviation y and the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt closer to zero. The sub lane keep assist current value setting unit 52 sets the sub lane keep assist current value Isr* that generates the sub lane keep assist torque required to keep the vehicle turning on a curved path. The lane keep assist current value Ir* is calculated by adding the main lane keep assist current value Imr* and the sub lane keep assist current value Isr*. The target current value I* is calculated by adding the lane keep assist current value Ir* to the steering assist current value Is*. The motor current I flowing in the electric motor 18 is controlled toward to the target current value I*.

The present embodiment has the following effects (1) to (5).

(1) The main lane keep assist torque that makes the lateral deviation y and the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt closer to zero can be generated. The vehicle is thus guided so as to make the lateral deviation y closer to zero. Accordingly, the vehicle can be guided toward the target travel line (in the present embodiment, toward the middle of the width of the vehicle's lane). The second lane keep assist current value Ir2* according to the magnitude of the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt is obtained regardless of the value of the lateral deviation y. The vehicle can therefore be guided so as to make the lateral centerline of the vehicle parallel to the target travel line, even if the reference position of the vehicle is located in the area close to the target travel line. The vehicle can thus be guided so as to avoid deviating from its lane.

(2) The relationship of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* to the lateral deviation y is given by the function Ir1*=a1·y3. The relationship of the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* to the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt is given by the function Ir2*=a2·(dy/dt). That is, the value of b1 is two or more and is larger than b2. Accordingly, when the reference position of the vehicle is located in the area away from the target travel line, the function to make the lateral deviation y closer to zero by the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* tends to be stronger than that to make the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt closer to zero by the second lane keep assist current value Ir2*, even if the sign of the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* is opposite to that of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1*. The vehicle can therefore be guided toward the target travel line (in the present embodiment, toward the middle of the width of the vehicle's lane) even if the sign of the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* is opposite to that of the first lane keep assist current value Ir1*.

(3) The main lane keep assist current value Imr* is calculated by multiplying the third lane keep assist current value Ir3* (=Ir1*+Ir2*) by the vehicle speed gain G according to the vehicle speed V. This allows an appropriate main lane keep assist current value Imr* according to the vehicle speed V to be set. For example, a larger main lane keep assist current value Imr* can be set at high vehicle speeds at which a strong correction force is required than at low vehicle speeds. The vehicle speed gain G is fixed to zero in the range where the vehicle speed V is close to zero. This can prevent the steered wheels 3 from being steered based on the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* and the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* when the vehicle is in a substantially stopped state.

(4) Since the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* is a function of the lateral deviation y, it is easy to set the relationship between the lateral deviation y and the first lane keep assist current value Ir1*. Similarly, since the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* is a function of the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt, it is easy to set the relationship between the lateral deviation change rate dy/dt and the second lane keep assist current value Ir2*.

(5) When the vehicle is traveling on a curved path where steering torque is required to keep the vehicle turning, the steering torque that keeps the vehicle turning can be generated as the sub lane keep assist torque by the electric motor 18. This makes it easier for the vehicle to travel along the target travel line even on a curved path.

FIG. 10 is a block diagram showing a modification of the main lane keep assist current value setting unit 51.

The main lane keep assist current value setting unit 51 includes the first current value calculation unit 61, the second current value calculation unit 62, the addition unit 63, the vehicle speed gain setting unit 64, the multiplication unit 65, a control steering torque setting unit 66, and a switch unit (final main lane keep assist current value setting unit) 67.

The first current value calculation unit 61 calculates the first lane keep assist current value Ir2* by an operation similar to that of the first current value calculation unit 61 in FIG. 5. The second current value calculation unit 62 calculates the second lane keep assist current value Ir2* by an operation similar to that of the second current value calculation unit 62 in FIG. 5. The addition unit 63 calculates the third lane keep assist current value Ir3* (=Ir1*+Ir2*) by adding the first lane keep assist current value Ir1* and the second lane keep assist current value Ir2*.

The vehicle speed gain setting unit 64 sets the vehicle speed gain G according to the vehicle speed V by an operation similar to that of the vehicle speed gain setting unit 64 in FIG. 5. The multiplication unit 65 calculates a fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* (=G·(Ir1*+Ir2*)) by multiplying the third lane keep assist current value Ir3* (=Ir1*+Ir2*) by the vehicle speed gain G.

The control steering torque setting unit 66 sets control steering torque Ts based on the detected steering torque T detected by the torque sensor 11. FIG. 11 shows an example of setting the control steering torque Ts with respect to the detected steering torque T. A dead band where the control steering torque Ts is zero is set in the region where the absolute value of the detected steering torque T is equal to or smaller than a predetermined value T2 (e.g., T2=0.4 N·m). The control steering torque Ts is set to the same value as the detected steering torque T in the region where the detected steering torque T is larger than T2 and in the region where the detected steering torque T is smaller than −T2.

The fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* calculated by the multiplication unit 65 is input to a first input terminal of the switch unit 67. Zero is input to a second input terminal of the switch unit 67. The control steering torque Ts calculated by the control steering torque setting unit 66 and the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* calculated by the multiplication unit 65 are applied to the switch unit 67 as switch control signals. The switch unit 67 selects one of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* received at the first input terminal and zero received at the second input terminal based on the sign of the control steering torque Ts and the sign of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4*, and outputs the selected one of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* and zero as a final main lane keep assist current value Imr*.

The sign of the control steering torque Ts represents the steering direction in which the driver steers the vehicle. The sign of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* represents the steered direction in which the steered wheels are steered, which corresponds to the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* (lane keep assist torque). If the steering direction represented by the sign of the control steering torque Ts is different from the steered direction represented by the sign of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4*, the switch unit 67 selects the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* received at the first input terminal, and outputs the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* as the final main lane keep assist current value Imr*.

If the steering direction represented by the sign of the control steering torque Ts is the same as the steered direction represented by the sign of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4*, the switch unit 67 selects zero received at the second input terminal, and outputs zero as the final main lane keep assist current value Imr*. This is because it is considered that the driver is steering the vehicle toward the target travel line when the steering direction represented by the sign of the control steering torque Ts is the same as the steered direction represented by the sign of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4*. As described above, the dead band where the control steering torque Ts is zero is set in the region where the absolute value of the detected steering torque T is equal to or smaller than the predetermined value T2. This can restrain frequent inversions of the sign of the control steering torque Ts in the region where the detected steering torque T is small. This can restrain frequent switching between the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* and zero and can therefore restrain frequent fluctuations in motor torque generated by the electric motor 18.

In the present embodiment, if the sign of the control steering torque Ts is different from that of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4*, the switch unit 67 selects the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* and outputs the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* as the final main lane keep assist current value Imr*. For example, the switch unit 67 may determine that the sign of the control steering torque Ts is different from that of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* when the product of the control steering torque Ts and the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* is equal to or smaller than zero (zero or a negative value).

If the sign of the control steering torque Ts is the same as that of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4*, the switch unit 67 selects zero and outputs zero as the final main lane keep assist current value Imr*. For example, the switch unit 67 may determine that the sign of the control steering torque Ts is the same as that of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* when the product of the control steering torque Ts and the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* is larger than zero (a positive value).

When the steering direction represented by the sign of the control steering torque Ts is the same as the steered direction represented by the sign of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4*, it is considered that the driver is steering the vehicle toward the target travel line. If the main lane keep assist torque is generated even though the driver is steering the vehicle toward the target travel line, a steering response (steering reaction force) may be significantly reduced, whereby a steering feel may be degraded or the vehicle may return too much toward the target travel line. In this modification, the final main lane keep assist current value Imr* is zero when the steering direction represented by the sign of the control steering torque Ts is the same as the steered direction represented by the sign of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4*. This can appropriately give the driver a steering response when he/she is steering the vehicle toward the target travel line. This can improve a steering feel and can also restrain the vehicle from returning too much toward the target travel line.

Although the embodiment of the present invention is described above, the present invention may be carried out in other forms. For example, a limiter that limits the absolute value of the third lane keep assist current value Ir3* (=Ir1*+Ir2*) to a predetermined range may be provided between the addition unit 63 (see FIGS. 5 and 10) and the multiplication unit 65.

Although the above embodiment includes the multiplication unit 65 (see FIGS. 5 and 10), the multiplication unit 65 may be omitted. The vehicle speed gain setting unit 64 is not required in the case where the multiplication unit 65 is omitted.

In the above embodiment, the steering assist current value setting unit 41 sets the steering assist current value Is* by using the steering torque T (specifically, based on the steering torque T and the vehicle speed V). However, the steering assist current value setting unit 41 may set the steering assist current value Is* by using a steering angle.

Although the above modification includes the control steering torque setting unit 66, the control steering torque setting unit 66 may be omitted. In the case where the control steering torque setting unit 66 is omitted, the detected steering torque T detected by the torque sensor 11 is applied to the switch unit 67 instead of the control steering torque Ts. In this case, when the steering direction represented by the sign of the detected steering torque T is different from the steered direction represented by the sign of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4*, the switch unit 67 selects the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* received at the first input terminal and outputs the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4* as the final main lane keep assist current value Imr*. When the steering direction represented by the sign of the detected steering torque T is the same as the steered direction represented by the sign of the fourth lane keep assist current value Ir4*, the switch unit 67 selects zero received at the second input terminal and outputs zero as the final main lane keep assist current value Imr*.

Although the above embodiment is described with respect to an example in which the present invention is applied to an electric power steering system, the present invention is also applicable to other vehicle steering systems such as a steer-by-wire system.

The present invention is also applicable in an automatic drive mode in which the steering wheel 2 is not steered.

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Citation

Patents Cited in This Cited by
Title Current Assignee Application Date Publication Date
Lane keeping control system for vehicle SUBARU CORPORATION 04 September 2014 02 April 2015
Steering control device for vehicles HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. 16 March 2006 05 December 2007
Lane keeping assist device for vehicle AISIN SEIKI KABUSHIKI KAISHA 24 June 2005 09 February 2006
Lane keeping assist device and lane keeping assist method NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. 10 December 2008 20 January 2011
Vehicle steering device and vehicle steering control method MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORPORATION 16 September 2015 06 October 2016
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US10000232 Steering assist 1 US10000232 Steering assist 2 US10000232 Steering assist 3