AEB Test GroupNew technology now being fitted to vehicles is allowing electronic sensor systems to monitor the vehicle and the surrounding road traffic environment and warn or intervene on behalf of the driver in a potentially dangerous situation. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) was the first such system and has generally been seen to offer up to 50% reduction in single vehicle crashes. New technologies are integrating radar and lidar systems with beam sensors to allow autonomous braking in critical situations. The first generations of these AEB systems were available in 2003 in Japan and these were a development of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), a driver support system that controls speed to maintain a set braking distance from the vehicle in front.
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems add to the basic ACC technology to initiate braking where a collision is imminent, regardless of whether the driver is using ACC. The AEB systems can provide different levels of braking: from partial autonomous braking at farer time to collisions, to full autonomous braking at very low time to collision where the collision is imminent. AEB systems automatically apply the brakes when sensors on the vehicle detect a likely collision and the driver has not applied the brake sufficiently and is not attempting to steer around the impact partner. Some AEB systems also give a pre-impact warning alerting the driver and optimise the response of the braking system. AEB systems show potential for reducing the occurrence of collisions and mitigating the severity of impacts, the benefits being reduced casualty injuries and vehicle damage. They are not necessarily designed to prevent crashes in all driving scenarios completely, but at least to mitigate them. Manufacturers are continually developing these technologies and launching more advanced systems on new vehicles that claim to be effective in a wider range of collision scenarios with greater potential benefits.
Recognising the potential for these AEB systems, insurers and other road safety stakeholders have set about devising tests that could be used to guide the development of AEB technology or ascertain differences among systems that come to market. One such group is an international group of Insurer funded research centres called RCAR (the Research Council for Automobile Repairs). Some RCAR members have formed a focus group, the AEB Group, with the aim of defining a set of test procedures that can be used by consumer test organisations such as Euro NCAP, IIHS and Thatcham. The Group is supported by a vehicle manufacturer - to understand vehicle design issues, and a tier 1 component supplier - to identify technological constraints. The Group is also supported by recognised accidentology experts.
The AEB group plans is basing its test procedures on real crash scenarios taking into account both frequency and severity. A range of data sources that includes insurance and national statistics as well as in-depth accident investigation have been consulted to identify scenarios of greatest importance. Specifically, the in-depth reconstructed accidents are used to identify typical pre-accident conditions. Test devices and tests able to represent these real world scenarios have been developed. These tests will be published by the Group and shared with other working parties looking at collision avoidance technologies such as P-NCAP (Euro NCAP) and P-SAFE (RCAR).