Major automakers commit to making automatic braking a standard feature

People on the observation deck watch as engineers inspect a car after a crash test at the Vehicle Research Center (VRC). The VRC was the site of today's announcement regarding automatic emergency braking.

By Jeff Sanford

Ruckersville, Virginia — September 15, 2015 — The US-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have announced that ten major vehicle manufacturers have committed to making automatic emergency braking (AEB) a standard feature on all new vehicles built.

“We are entering a new era of vehicle safety, focused on preventing crashes from ever occurring, rather than just protecting occupants when crashes happen,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “But if technologies such as automatic emergency braking are only available as options or on the most expensive models, too few Americans will see the benefits of this new era. These 10 companies are committing to making AEB available to all new-car buyers.”

The announcement was made at the dedication of IIHS’s newly expanded Vehicle Research Center. The agreement represents “a major step toward making crash-prevention technologies more widely available to consumers,” according to the press release. The 10 companies are Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

The OEMs will work in the months to come with IIHS and NHTSA on the details of implementing their “historic commitment.” That is, there is not yet any kind of timeline for making AEB a standard feature.

The press release said the, “Department and IIHS encourage all other light-vehicle and trucking manufacturers to bring automated vehicle technology to all vehicles on U.S. roadways as soon as possible.”

As the technology exists today, there are rumours that test vehicles end up performing far too many “false-positive” braking incidents. That is, the cars braked when there was nothing in front of them. It will be interesting to see what final time line the companies agree on.

Automatic emergency braking includes a range of systems designed to address crashes in which drivers do not apply the brakes or fail to apply sufficient braking power to avoid or mitigate a crash. AEB systems use on-vehicle sensors such as radar, cameras or lasers to detect an imminent crash, warn the driver and, if the driver does not take sufficient action, engage the brakes.

“The evidence is mounting that AEB is making a difference,” IIHS President Adrian Lund was quoted as saying. “Most crashes involve driver error. This technology can compensate for the mistakes every driver makes because the systems are always on alert, monitoring the road ahead and never getting tired or distracted.”

A recent report from IIHS suggests that AEB technology can reduce “insurance injury claims by as much as 35 percent.”

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