Autonomous_Emergency_Braking_AEDThe latest and possibly the most effective safety feature that is now being fitted in more and more new vehicles rolling off production lines is the autonomous emergency braking system (AEB).

The system works by using either radar or cameras, or a combination of both, to warn drivers if a potential collision is imminent and applies the brakes to prevent or minimise the impact.

Different technologies and options
As is usual with new technology, there are differences between the offerings of vehicle manufacturers and how these safety features are marketed and sold. Some are offering it as standard across their range of vehicles, others are including it as an optional extra. How the system works and the name of the system also differs between manufacturers.

Some use a radar system that will identify where an object is, its general shape and whether it is metal. Others use cameras, which are better at identifying the object (a pedestrian or cyclist for example) but are not very good at determining where they are. A combination of both provides the best solution.
The technology has moved on considerably since the first vehicles to be fitted with AEB came into production in 2008. At that time the system was used for slow speeds in city traffic between 2mph and 19mph to stop or reduce the effects of an impact. Now systems are smarter and apply a much greater braking force to work effectively at higher speeds.

What has not changed since AEB systems were introduced is the fact that injury and deaths are lower for vehicles fitted with AEB and some crashes can be avoided altogether.

The future of AEB
Soon, it will be realistic to expect all new vehicles to be fitted with AEB. The EU Commission has ruled that all new cars must be fitted with AEB together with other safety features from 2021. AEB is already mandatory on all new HGVs over 7.5 tonnes (since November 2015).

Thatcham Research have some interesting statistics on their website covering AEB, including accident reduction and insurance premiums.

Euro NCAP, the new car assessment programme, will not give a five-star safety rating to any car not fitted with AEB, making it even more likely that AEB will become compulsory in the future.
Can this reduce my insurance premium?

Owners of vehicles fitted with AEB can expect lower insurance premiums. Though the systems are more expensive to replace if you are involved in an accident, this is more than offset by the damage prevention the system provides by avoiding crashes.

If you are a vehicle fleet owner, the reduction per vehicle can result in substantial savings across your fleet of vehicles.

Regardless of possible cost savings, the reductions pale into insignificance against the possible injury or loss of life that can be prevented by AEB.