Vehicle manufacturers have made many advancements in vehicle safety. For example, front crash prevention systems have been a significant step forward. These systems, often called automatic emergency braking (AEB), are designed to detect an imminent collision with another vehicle, object, or pedestrian and autonomously apply the brakes to prevent or mitigate the impact.
While these systems have been instrumental in reducing the number of accidents and enhancing road safety, recent studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have highlighted a crucial shortcoming: the current technology is more effective at detecting cars than it is at recognizing larger vehicles, such as trucks and buses, as well as smaller ones like motorcycles.
According to the IHLS’s study of 160,000, today’s systems reduce rear-end crash rates with medium or heavy trucks by 38% and rear-end crash rates with motorcycles by 41%, which are both well short of the 53% reduction in rear-end crash rates with other passenger vehicles.
The Disparity in detection capability improvements
The IIHS found that front crash prevention systems have become increasingly adept at identifying and responding to passenger cars. Still, the technology’s performance is less consistent for other types of vehicles. This discrepancy in detection capabilities poses a significant risk to car drivers and motorcyclists. Motorcycles, with their smaller size and different dynamic characteristics, go unnoticed more often by the sensors that are the eyes of AEB systems. Similarly, the unique profiles and movement patterns of large trucks can also escape accurate detection, leading to potential safety hazards on the road. Matching the 53% across the board would prevent an estimated 5,500 crashes with trucks and 500 with motorcycles.
Improving AEB Systems for all
The need for improvement in AEB technology is clear: vehicle manufacturers must prioritize enhancing these systems to protect all road users equally. The improvement entails refining the algorithms and sensors that govern AEB systems so they can more accurately discern the presence of motorcycles and large vehicles and react accordingly. Advancements in radar, lidar, and camera technologies, combined with more sophisticated machine learning models, should provide a solution.
Improvements are necessary
The IIHS’s findings serve as a call to action for vehicle manufacturers to intensify their efforts in refining AEB technology. Motorcyclists can be difficult for other motorists to see, and larger trucks pose a higher likelihood of severe or fatal injuries. By improving the technology, manufacturers can ensure that all road users, regardless of their vehicle, enjoy similar protection. As we move towards a future of autonomous driving, enhancing such safety systems becomes imperative for preserving human life on our roadways.