Tech to protect pedestrians from crashes isn’t doing the job
Published on: Monday, October 07, 2019
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Helping drivers spot people in order to prevent or lessen the severity of collisions is the goal of automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection, but new tests show that those systems consistently under perform and in some cases fail completely, like at night.

Those are the highlights of a study released on Thursday by the AAA automotive group that found that pedestrian detection systems didn’t work when they were needed most. For example, in a series of simulated scenarios, when a child darted out from between two parked cars in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph, a collision occurred 89% of the time. And when an adult crossed in front of a vehicle traveling at night, none of the systems reacted in enough time to avoid a crash.

The group said technology that warns drivers of potential collisions with people was essential, given that the number who die on the roads each year has steadily grown since 2010. On average, it noted, a pedestrian is killed every 88 minutes on U.S. streets, and most fatal crashes — about 75% — occur after dark.

 “Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise, proving how important the safety impact of these systems could be when further developed,” Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, said in a statement. “But, our research found that current systems are far from perfect and still require an engaged driver behind the wheel.”

For the study, the AAA, in partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, evaluated the performance of four midsize sedans (2019 Chevy Malibu, 2019 Honda Accord, 2019 Tesla Model 3 and 2019 Toyota Camry) equipped with automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection to determine their effectiveness.

In addition to location and time of day of incidents, a driver’s type of turn and speed also impacted system performance.

When a vehicle turned right into the path of an adult, systems did not react at all; each of the test vehicles collided with the pedestrian every time.

When an adult crossed in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph during the day, a collision was avoided 40% of the time, but at the higher speed of 30 mph, most systems failed to avoid a collision.

In general, according to the report, systems were ineffective in all cases where the vehicle was traveling at 30 mph.

The goal of the report, the group said, was to identify shortcomings of the technology in order to better educate consumers how to drive and walk more safely, and to help manufacturers improve their systems. –Forbes

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