The car technology keeping you safe
Eight high-tech safety features worth having in your car.
Although we’re a long way from the arrival of a fully self-driving car, vehicle manufacturers are rolling out an extensive range of automated features that promise to make motoring easier and, more importantly, safer than ever before. Ranking at the top of these is autonomous emergency braking (AEB), a vehicle safety system designed to avoid or minimise the severity of a crash.
AEB systems use a variety of sensors including cameras, lasers and radars to monitor the view ahead and detect obstructions in a vehicle’s path. If the driver does not respond, the vehicle automatically applies the brakes.
Many AEB systems not only detect other vehicles, they can also detect the presence of pedestrians and cyclists to avoid or reduce the impact of a crash.
Eight high-tech safety features worth having in your car
Autonomous emergency braking uses radar, laser or camera sensors to detect potential crashes and apply the brakes to prevent or reduce the severity of a crash.
The technology is very effective in situations where there is poor visibility, a driver is distracted or has limited time to react to things like sudden braking of a car in front or a child running out in front of the car.
AEB is available in a number of forms designed to react to different situations involving other cars, pedestrians, cyclist and even wildlife. Broadly there are four types:
Low speed: Best suited for city driving where crashes often occur at low speeds but can nevertheless cause debilitating injury, such as whiplash. These systems look for the reflectivity of other vehicles and are not as sensitive to pedestrians or roadside objects.
High speed: These systems utilise long-range radar to scan further ahead of the vehicle (up to 200 metres) at higher speeds.
Pedestrian systems: Use a camera combined with a radar to detect pedestrians by their shape and characteristics. The pedestrians’ movement relative to the path of the vehicle is calculated to determine whether they’re in danger of being struck.
Reversing AEB: Designed to brake a reversing vehicle when it’s about to strike an object. This includes pedestrians as well as inanimate items.
Blind-spot warning helps the driver change lanes safely by detecting whether there are other vehicles in the driver’s ‘blind spot’. Although there is no substitute for performing a head check, these systems will help detect objects in the driver’s blind spot, especially if they have reduced flexibility. The system will usually warn of the presence of other vehicles by a light on the side mirror and then sound an audible warning (or vibrate the steering wheel) if the driver starts to change lanes. Manufacturers are also developing these systems to detect approaching cyclists when the car is stationary.
Rear cross-traffic alert
Cross-traffic assist systems are designed to help the driver in situations where they can’t see other cars crossing their path when reversing. The systems usually give an audible tone and visual warning when a car is detected. Higher-feature systems automatically brake the car if the driver fails to stop, to avoid a crash.