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Know Your Car: What is an Automatic Braking System?

Do you feel safe in your car? Well, with all of the new technologies currently available, you should.

One of these new, sophisticated technologies is the automatic braking system – a safety technology designed to protect you on the road and prevent all kinds of mishaps.

What Is an Automatic Braking System?

An automatic braking system is an important part of safety technology for automobiles. It is an advanced system, specifically designed to either prevent a possible collision or to reduce the speed of a moving vehicle prior to a collision.
These systems combine sensors such as radar, video, infrared, or ultrasonic to scan for possible objects in front of the vehicle. After scanning the area, they use brake control to prevent a collision if an object is detected.

Automatic brakes are one of many car safety features, and they are often integrated with other technologies, such as pre-collision systems and adaptive cruise control.

How Does It Work?

Even though each car manufacturer has its own technology when it comes to automatic braking systems, they all use sensory input as a starting point. Depending on the manufacturer, a system uses sensors, such as a laser, radar, or even video data, to determine if there are any objects in front of the vehicle. For example, the system monitors traffic in front of the vehicle and assesses the possibility of a collision.

When an object is detected, the system continues with a direct measurement of the sensor data it has collected, determining the distance between the moving vehicle and the object in front of it. It also assesses their relative speed.

If the system concludes that there is a significant speed difference (i.e., the speed of the vehicle is greater than the speed of the object on its path), it can automatically activate the brakes in an attempt to prevent a possible collision.

Different Systems Out There

One of the best-known automatic braking systems out there is Subaru’s EyeSight system. The EyeSight system uses video input in the form of two color cameras mounted at the top of the windshield. The video input helps the system look for contrast with the background and vertical surfaces when scanning the area. The software is then able to recognize different types of images, like pedestrians, motorcycles, and rear ends of other vehicles.

Volvo’s City Safety System, on the other hand, uses a combination of a lidar (light detection and ranging), which is placed on the bumper, and a camera, which is mounted on the windshield. Lidar can see several hundred yards in front of the car, but it can’t determine what it’s seeing. That’s where the camera steps in, identifying the object and determining if it is a potential problem.

Honda’s City-Brake Active System combines radar sensors and cameras, using the data to determine any possible collision, and warn the driver through a series of visual and audible alerts. If the driver ignores the warnings, the system can take over and automatically apply the brakes. Honda’s system can detect pedestrians and slow the vehicle down, or stop it entirely if there is a chance that a pedestrian might be hit.

Role in Other Car Safety Features

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), crash avoidance features have the potential to prevent or at least lessen the impact in 1.9 million crashes a year. Furthermore, they can prevent one out of three fatal crashes.

Automatic braking systems play a significant role in preventing those crashes. Their primary use is in pre-crash collision avoidance systems, and adaptive cruise control.

Collision avoidance systems warn the driver of an impending collision, usually with a combination of audible and visual alerts, and through the tightening of the seat belt.

An example of such a system would be found in the 2014 Acura MDX. It uses several audible alerts, along with visual warnings that include a light flashing on the dashboard, and the word BRAKE flashing on the multi-information display. The multiple safety alerts are difficult for the driver to ignore.

If the driver does not react to the warnings and decides not to apply the brakes, the system will determine that the impact is imminent, and the brakes will be activated automatically.

An automatic braking system is also used with adaptive cruise control systems, which measure the speed of a leading vehicle and try to match it. These systems can also reduce speed by cutting the throttle, downshifting, and activating the brakes.

Benefits of Having an Automatic Braking System

 

Drivers whose cars are equipped with an automatic braking system don’t drive their cars any differently than any other car. The system is there, but it doesn’t bother the driver, and if it comes down to it, it doesn’t even need the driver’s input to react.

Sadly, only about 40% of drivers react appropriately and hit the brakes in crashes. With an automatic braking system, the driver still has ultimate control of the car. Just in case the driver doesn’t react to the system’s warnings, the system will start braking on its own.

An automatic braking system can help reduce damage in the event of an accident, but more importantly, it can save lives.

Automatic Braking Systems are a great safety net that most drivers will probably never use. Still, it is a comfort for all drivers to know that in case of a major slip-up in protecting themselves, the vehicle has enhanced safety measures in place.

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