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Move over, airbags and stability control – the new buzzword in safety circles is Autonomous Emergency Braking.
Research suggests that Autonomous Emergency Braking systems can reduce accidents by up to 27 per cent, saving around 8 000 lives and preventing many more serious injuries and whiplash claims each year. Despite this, the technology has been made available only on around one in five new cars. Two-thirds of manufacturers do not offer the technology at all.
Although AEB is generally restricted to premium brands as a standard fitment – notably Volvo, Infiniti and Mercedes – it’s increasingly being offered on mass-market cars as an option. That movement is likely to gain traction now that the Euro NCAP new-car crash test programme has indicated its intention to include these braking systems in its assessments from 2014.
The independent safety organisation says that AEB can go a long way towards cutting the road death toll and is calling for it to be fitted as standard to new cars.
Besides the aforementioned makes, Jaguar, Range Rover, Audi and Lexus are among the leading brands offering AEB as an option in executive and large family cars. However, Mazda, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen offer affordable AEB systems partly as standard or optional on models such as the Mazda CX-5, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and the VW up! According to Euro NCAP, Fiat will also make AEB a low-cost option on the new Panda in July 2012.
AEB is increasingly being made available as cars are replaced by new or facelifted models, such as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Ford Fiesta and Ford Kuga.
Euro NCAP secretary-general Michiel van Ratingen says that faster penetration of these technologies into new cars will make it more realistic for the European Union to reach its target to halve road deaths by 2020. He said it’s hoped that European authorities will soon require AEB as mandatory on all new vehicle types.
Stakeholders were given demonstrations of the state of the AEB art at Autoworld in Brussels recently as part of Euro NCAP’s 15th anniversary commemorations.
How it works. Autonomous Emergency Braking systems can help to avoid crashes or to mitigate their severity by warning the driver and supporting his braking response, or by applying the brakes independently, or both. The technology generally uses forward-looking radar, lidar and video systems to provide a complete, accurate, real-time image of the road ahead.