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Report: Auto Emergency Braking With Pedestrian Detection Systems Fail When Needed Most

Image from AAA report on Emergency braking and pedestrian detection. October 2019. Click to view larger version The American Automobile Association (AAA) reported new research results from tests of automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection systems in automobiles. The AAA found that these systems work inconsistently and failed when most needed: at night. Chief findings from the report:

"... automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection perform inconsistently, and proved to be completely ineffective at night. An alarming result, considering 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark. The systems were also challenged by real-world situations, like a vehicle turning right into the path of an adult. AAA’s testing found that in this simulated scenario, the systems did not react at all, colliding with the adult pedestrian target every time..."

The testing was performed jointly with the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center in Los Angeles, California. Track testing was conducted on closed surface streets on the grounds of the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Four test vehicles were used: 2019 Chevy Malibu, 2019 Honda Accord, 2019 Tesla Model 3 and 2019 Toyota Camry. The testing included four scenarios:

  1. "An adult crossing in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph during the day and at 25 mph at night;
  2. A child darting out from between two parked cars in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph;
  3. A vehicle turning right onto an adjacent road with an adult crossing at the same time; and
  4. Two adults standing along the side of the road with their backs to traffic, with a vehicle approaching at 20 mph and 30 mph."

For scenario #1: a vehicle moving at 20 mph a collision resulted 60% of the time (= the systems avoided a collision 40 percent of the time). For scenario #2: a collision occurred 89% of the time for vehicles moving at 20 mph For scenario #3, collisions resulted 100 percent of the time. For scenario #4, a collision resulted 80 percent of the time for vehicles moving at 20 mph. Additional test results:

"... 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 October 2019 "Automatic Emergency Braking With Pedestrian Detection" AAA report is available here (Adobe PDF).

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