December 9, 2019
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New research from AAA indicates that motor vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking or AEB systems that feature pedestrian detection capability “perform inconsistently.” The pedestrian -detection technology also is “completely ineffective at night,” which the group called “alarming” as 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark.

[Above photo by AAA.]

AAA also found that AEB systems are “challenged” by real-world situations, such as a vehicle turning right into the path of an adult.

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA said in a statement that it evaluated the performance of four midsize sedans equipped with AEB systems featuring pedestrian detection on a closed course using simulated pedestrian targets.

Photo by AAA

Overall, the systems performed best in the instance of the adult crossing in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph during the day, avoiding a collision 40 percent of the time. But at the higher speed of 30 mph, most systems failed to avoid a collision with the simulated pedestrian target. The other scenarios proved to be more challenging for the systems:

  • When encountering a child darting from between two cars, with the vehicle traveling at 20 mph, a collision occurred 89 percent of the time.
  • Immediately following a right hand turn, all of the test vehicles collided with the adult pedestrian.
  • When approaching two adults standing alongside the road, with the vehicle traveling at 20 mph, a collision occurred 80 percent of the time.
  • In general, the systems were ineffective in all scenarios where the vehicle was traveling at 30 mph.
  • At night, none of the systems detected or reacted to the adult pedestrian.

The group added that the complete methodology for this testing can be found within its full research report.

Photo by AAA

“The rise in pedestrian deaths is a major concern and automakers are on the right path with the intent of these systems,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, in a statement – noting that, on average, nearly 6,000 pedestrians lose their lives each year.

“Our goal with this testing is to identify where the gaps exist to help educate consumers and share these findings with manufacturers to work to improve their functionality,” Bannon noted.

editor@aashto.org

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