Automatic braking is biggest safety feature since seat belts

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is the practice of having an automated system in place that applies the brakes without intervention of the driver, should a potential collision be detected and it’s garnering a lot of praise from industry bodies. In fact, many analsyts believe it’s a technology that could make as big an impact on saving lives as the humble seat belt. There’s even calls for the technology to be made mandatory for all new cars.

Some cars are already being fitted with early versions of the technology, but it’s a premium feature that can cost thousands of pounds as part of an advanced feature set. Only Volvo vehicles include it as standard, but the basic versions only work up to 25 miles per hour and promise to only stop crashes as slow as 15 miles per hour. Something tells me we could all stop a crash at that speed and don’t really need a computer to help us out.

Often the tech doesn’t work in junctions or other scenarios either and can’t detect cyclists or other obstacles. However analysts want it to become a standard, mandatory feature with much improved detection abilities. There are current issues with the technology not being particularly effect at very high speeds, but that should get better over time.

Research by motor insurers research centre, Thatcham, pulled up some interesting statistics on the technology and current collisions that show it could indeed have a big impact if made a mandatory feature. It believes that as many as 17,000 fewer deaths would occur on British roads each year by 2025 if pushed forward next year. This would be a similar effect as the implementation of forced seat belts for front seat drivers in 1983, which saw a 50 per cent drop in roadway fatalities.


The end goal is something like Google’s fully automated cars

Of course manufacturers aren’t going to be happy with the idea, since that means the cost of making the cars will go up and profits down. However, there have been calls in some sectors for the government to offer a subsidy of £500 per vehicle fitted with the tech.

Edmund King, president of the AA said on the subject (via Telegraph): “It is incredibly impressive technology. If you look at things in the past from the seat belt to airbags to anti-lock braking systems, every so often a technology comes along that breaks the mould and is a great advancement in road safety and we certainly believe this is one of the future technologies that will make a great difference.”

While the motor industry has spent a lot of time and money inventing new and innovative ways to make us safer on the road (while making the cars faster), it comes to a point where ultimately we may need to start sacrificing control of the vehicle to make the driving experience safer, at least optionally. Some 90 per cent of all road accidents are linked in some way to driver error. Be it through inattention, speeding, or miscalculations, it’s mostly the driver’s fault when a crash occurs. Taking the driver out of that situation does eliminate the potential for those scenarios.

Image Source: Steve Jurveston

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

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