Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision warning can stop your vehicle and avoid cars or obstacles ahead. In some cars the system operates only for lower speeds, and in others, a warning is provided to the driver if a potential collision is identified – this technology is applied differently in various vehicle makes and models.
The technology uses a sensor at the front of the car to judge distances and closing speeds between your car and other vehicles, objects or people. If it calculates that a collision is imminent, the car will apply brakes to stop or slow the car without any intervention from the driver.
This technology can avoid or lessen the damage caused by collisions due to driver inattention, fatigue or speeding – saving the lives of both the occupants of the car as well as other road users including pedestrians. The technology is programmed to act quickly – and reaction time is therefore more effective than even an attentive driver in the same situation, as most people are not used to dealing with critical situations and therefore don’t react quickly enough, or apply enough brake pressure to avoid a crash.
According to ANCAP (the Australian New Car Assessment Program), Australia’s independent vehicle safety advocate, low-speed AEB results in a 38 percent reduction in real-world rear-end crashes. The low-speed version – referred to by ANCAP as “AEB (City)” – usually consists of an automatic brake function that operates for speeds up to 30km/h or 50km/h.
According to Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission, AEB can avoid 35 percent of all rear-end crashes and mitigate damage in 53 percent of rear-end collisions.
Clearly AEB has tremendous potential to reduce injuries and costs associated with crashes.
As stated at the start of this article – not all AEB systems work in the same way. Some will not prevent a crash but will only slow down the vehicle thereby lessening the severity of the impact. It is important to note that no two systems are the same – there will be differences in the hardware used (cameras/radar/lasers) as well as the speeds at which the systems become effective. It is therefore really difficult to compare AEB systems between models – however, if you are in the market for a new vehicle, at least understand whether the models that you are looking at have AEB capability, and if so, to what extent.