Should Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) Be Mandatory?

Automatic Emergency Braking

What is AEB?

Autonomous emergency braking, or AEB, is a new braking system that supposedly reduces the number of and risk of slow-speed collisions. The system uses a combination of lasers, cameras, radar, and sensors to detect possible collisions at three levels: low speed system, higher speed system, and pedestrians. Not all AEB systems come with all three levels of collision avoidance.  The AEB system will warn a drive if a crash is about to occur and automatically stop a car if it senses an object ahead and the driver fails to respond. However, AEB seems to have a maximum operating power of around 50 mph.

Who Is Pushing For Mandatory AEB?

Recently, many countries and organizations have pushed to make AEB mandatory in all cars. Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) have started lobbying to governments to make this happen as part of their  “Avoid the crash, Avoid the trauma” campaign. The National Transport Safety Board (NTSB), a U.S. based company, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are also getting involved. The NTSB has called out the NHTSA for not making AEB mandatory already, though automotive manufacturers have shown reluctance to such a requirement. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) admits a need for AEB technology as well, though CEO, Tony Weber, is not convinced. Alliance of Automobile Manufactures’ (AAM) vice president, Gloria Bergquist agrees with Weber.

With so many organizations pushing for this change yet so many involved in the auto industry unsure, it’s important to know what AEB really does, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of mandatory AEB.

Why Do We Need AEB?

Most of the organizations advocating automatic brakes have released various statistics demonstrating the usefulness and life saving capabilities of AEB technology. In 2012, NTSB claimed that on U.S. Highways over 1,700 fatalities occurred–on average, 1,200 hundred people die car crashes yearly  in Australia–as well as 500,000 injuries. Of those, NTSB believes over 80% of those fatalities and injuries could have been avoided with AEB technology. Additionally, ANCAP and AMA, in their joint venture press release, claim AEB could reduce the number of rear-end crashes by at least 38%.

With these numbers, it is easy to see how requiring every car manufactured from here forward to be built with AEB technology could saving lives. However, not everyone is excited about the idea.

What Are The Drawbacks To Mandatory AEB?

Most car companies have not added AEB technology as a standard feature. Some, like Nissan, are trying while others, like Toyota, want to make the brakes an optional feature on all its models. There are three major reasons why companies are against the idea: cost, competition, and choice.

Bergquist points out that several types of collision avoidance systems exist and that making one mandatory will rob an individual of a feature he or she prefers to use over AEB, like a 360-degree camera view. She also believes having a variety of collision avoidance technology will keep the industry pushing for better ways rather than settling on a standard safety feature. The competitive edge of offering better safety collision features may drop if AEB were a standard, which would lower the appeal of certain vehicles and, some fear, lessen and slow the search for even better collision avoidance technology. Lastly, forcing automotive industries to include AEB may lift the price of cars, which are already so high.

Take a Stance

Ultimately, you must decide for yourself whether or not requiring AEB in every car produced from now on is a good idea. The movement is blazing in Australia, and the United State of America is also starting to spark on the issue. There’s no denying the benefit of such technology, but will placing it in all vehicles halt competition and better technology or prevent accidents and save lives?

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