Euro NCAP this week published the results of its survey on the availability of Autonomous Emergency Braking systems in Europe and reveals that the assessment programme will include AEB technologies in its star rating from 2014.
Real world performance data suggests AEB systems can reduce accidents by up to 27%. Although the introduction of these active safety technologies is reducing road deaths and injuries, the availability of AEB in Europe is far from standardized. A recent survey undertaken by Euro NCAP reveals that AEB is completely unavailable on 79% of the car models on sale in Europe and that 66% of manufacturers do not offer an AEB system on any of their new car models.
Autonomous Emergency Braking systems can help to avoid crashes or to mitigate their severity by warning the driver and supporting his braking response and/or by applying the brakes independently. The technology generally uses forward-looking radar, lidar and video systems to provide a complete, accurate, real-time image of the road ahead. Since 2010, several car manufacturers have been recognized for the safety benefits of their AEB systems through Euro NCAP Advanced rewards.
Euro NCAP finds that premium brands such as Volvo, Infiniti and Mercedes have the best levels of standard AEB fitment, and are joined by Jaguar, Range Rover, Audi and Lexus when optional fit is also considered. Cars in the Executive and Large Family categories have the highest level of availability, at least as an option. However, some volume sector manufacturers are showing that AEB can be offered as standard or as an affordable option on mass-market vehicles. Amongst others, Mazda, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen are selling AEB systems partly as standard or optional on some high-volume cars such as the Mazda CX-5, the Ford Focus, the Honda Civic and the VW up!. It is understood that Fiat will also make AEB a low-cost option on the new Panda in July 2012. AEB systems are 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.
Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General of Euro NCAP says 'A faster penetration of these technologies into new cars will make it more realistic for the European Union to reach its target to cut road deaths by 50% by 2020. Consequently, Euro NCAP has decided to include AEB assessments as part of the overall star rating from 2014 onwards and hopes that European authorities will soon require AEB as mandatory on all new vehicle types.'
Since Euro NCAP published the first safety rating in 1997, considerable efforts have been made by car manufacturers, technology providers, authorities and road operators to make cars safer. Despite an important reduction of road deaths the past 15 years, in Europe today, over 30,000 people are still killed on the road and many more are injured every year. The inclusion of AEB systems in the Euro NCAP star rating will alert and encourage consumers to choose AEB when buying a new car as it will improve their safety, make a real difference and help them avoid or mitigate a crash.
The electrification of automobiles may play a large role in facilitating the mass adoption of Autonomous Emergency Braking systems. With the integration of braking and powertrain systems in hybrid vehicles and the future introduction of in-wheel motor systems, safety functions such as Anti-lock braking, stability control and autonomous emergency braking systems can become software features that are virtually free to reproduce and distribute which can be updated on-line with the same ease and regularity as today PC and smart phone operating systems.