Single-vehicle road departure accidents represent a substantial amount of today’s accidents. This paper presents the design and experimental test of an active steering assistance system that offers two functions: lane departure avoidance by temporary activation and maintaining vehicle heading by permanent activation. Each of the two functions can be used exclusively or in combination. Specific constraints related to each of the two functions are taken into account in the control design of the steering assistance by using LMI (linear matrix inequality) and BMI (bilinear matrix inequality) optimization methods. Consequently, lane overshoot is minimized for assistance activations near the border of the lane even during curve negotiation and robust lane keeping is ensured. Furthermore, the effects on lane keeping performance of simultaneous steering by the driver and the assistance are theoretically quantified. The results are verified using a fully equipped prototype vehicle. The obtained field test is consistent with the expected performance.

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