Braking News!

If you’re driving in slow-moving traffic, the danger of bumping into the car in front is about to become a thing of the past. Autonomous Emergency Braking, (now being referred to, somewhat predictably, as AEB), will use radar, laser-fuelled ‘lidar’, and video technology to warn drivers of an imminent bang and activate an emergency stop.

AEB in some form is currently being employed by Audi (Pre Sense Front Plus), Ford (Collision Warning with Brake Support), Honda (Collision Mitigation Brake System), Mercedes (Collision Prevention Assist), Volvo (City Safety) and others, however it is thought it may become a compulsory standard as early as the end of the year. And, while the technology is currently being employed on cars at low speeds but it is thought higher speed cars might benefit in due course as detection of pedestrians is included in the AEB package.

Matthew Avery, Head of Research at The UK Safety and Security Research Centre noted:

“About 90 per cent of all crashes are below 20mph. Risk is obviously based on frequency as well as severity, and whiplash claims tend to come when crashes are between about 5 and 20mph. That’s where the bulk of whiplash injuries occur, therefore systems specifically targeted in that area are something that (particularly) insurers will really be keen on.”

With so many companies supplying competing AEB technologies, ironically, a race is on to supply a leading brake technology. Avery added:

“Volvo made the first City Safety braking system, fitted as standard on its XC60 in 2008. And Mercedes has also done a lot of work, championing the radar. We’ve also been testing a Subaru system that isn’t yet available on the European market but uses a stereo camera system, which is interesting because radars are very expensive but cameras on their own are quite dumb. But if you put two cameras together you get a stereoscopic effect which kind of bridges between the two. One of our best performing vehicles in all of our tests is a Subaru Outback.”

AEB is not only good news for safety (the European Commission suggest AEB could reduce accidents by 27 per cent and save 8,000 lives per year), insurance premiums for drivers of AEB-equipped cars will fall by as much as four groups.

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