New braking systems that work without human intervention could reduce considerably the number of pedestrian casualties, according to the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre Thatcham.
The Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems collect data from a number of sensors and apply the brakes before hitting an obstacle or pedestrian if the driver hasn't reacted fast enough. The action may mitigate the crash or even avoid it altogether.
The technology aims to cut minor injuries produced by impacts under 20mph (75% of all crashes) and pedestrian casualties, which represent 23% of all killed and serious injuries in the EU. Thatcham also estimates that more than 160,000 whiplash injuries caused each year in the UK by the rear end shunt would also be prevented with AEB. The researchers also inform than children are more likely to be killed as pedestrian than passengers in cars.
AEB systems can use a number of different sensors mounted on the vehicle, where price and functionality vary with the technology chosen.
Among the main types is the LIDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging. Used by Volvo and Ford, works by monitoring the distance with the car in front by infra-red. It is cheap an addresses the majority of front-into-rear crashes, but it can't distinguish objects in detail and is only suitable for low speeds.
Volvo, Honda and Mercedes also use Radar, suitable for up to 125mph and covering distances of 200m in front of the car. Its problem is its vulnerability and elevated price.
Cameras are used as well. They provide a high object definition, including pedestrians, and their price is relatively low. BMW, Volvo and Subaru are among the manufacturers that use them.
Finally the Sensor Fusion, or cameras and radar sensors combined together, would be the best option due to the accuracy and reliability for all sort of objects and speeds. Obviously that would be the most expensive option.
Even though the advantages AEB may introduce, the systems are not yet subject to regulation. The Thatcham AEB protocols now being developed are expected to be considered in any future Euro NCAP testing procedures.
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