More eyes on the road
What is it?
An important step towards potentially driverless vehicles, autonomous braking builds on the existing Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), which will become mandatory in Europe from November this year, adding extra sensors to respond more quickly to potential dangers ahead.
The eSafetyAware campaign (run in the UK by RoadSafe, Thatcham Research and component manufacturer Bosch), is targeting fleet decision makers to drive wider knowledge and acceptance of driver assistance systems through hands-on demonstrations before they become mandatory.
How does it work?
ESP is an electronic system which detects a loss of traction at one of the wheels, and can then individually brake each corner of the car to avoid a skid. It’s not a new technology, but mandating it not only in Europe, but the United States, Japan and Australia creates a platform for other systems to take control of braking functions.
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) uses a forward-facing radar, laser (LIDAR) or camera to monitor the distance to other vehicles and the speed at which they are travelling. If the sensors detect a slower moving object or pedestrian ahead, they can pre-prime, then automatically apply the brakes to reduce the severity of a collision or avoid it altogether at low speeds.
Though these are usually discussed in relation to eradicating accidents at less than 20mph – which Bosch says account for 75% of all collisions – the technology behind forms the basis of automatic cruise control and some can be used to pre-warn the driver then actively brake the vehicle at motorway speeds if it is approaching a slower moving vehicle or traffic jam.
Networked further, camera-based systems can read road signs for in-car displays and monitor road markings for active lane-keeping, while the latest parking assistance systems can utilise autonomous braking to take full control of the manoeuvre rather than just steering into a space.
In a German study, analysed by Bosch, 20% of rear-end shunts were caused by braking too late, 49% by not braking sufficiently and 31% by not braking at all. EuroNCAP says AEB reduced accident rates by 27%, while the United States Insurance Instutute for Highway Safety reported a 15% drop in claims for vehicles fitted with the technology.
But adoption is slow, with 82.6% of 2013 model year vehicles not offering AEB as an option. Bosch sees the insurance industry as the main driver of wider adoption, with incentives of up to 10% already available and Euro NCAP including driver assistance systems in its results from next year.