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back to article Euro NCAP to mandate auto-braking in new-car test

Euro NCAP, the European car safety organisation, is to insist that, from 2014 onwards, all vehicles seeking its approval must be able to hit the anchors without driver intervention. From that date, so-called Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) technology will be required by any car seeking a New Car Assessment Programme rating. …

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Hmm

The real agenda is to keep adding regulations until cars are priced out of reach for most people.

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Re: Hmm

Eventually they'll find a way to ban human drivers.

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Re: Hmm

Good. The thought of tons of aluminium and steel being operated at dozens of metres per second by an intelligent agent with reaction times measured in significant fractions of a second scares me. The faster we switch to robotic cars, the less people will die on the roads.

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Re: Hmm

The insurance companies already pretty much did that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

"less people will die on the roads."

FEWER

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

if it only kicks in at 13mph and is going to save 27% of road deaths, thats a lot of slow speed death...

what's wrong with thede made-up numbers

i guess it's not speed that kills it the coming to zero at the end.

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Re: Hmm

The faster we switch to robotic cars, the less people will die on the roads.

Bwahahaha. And you have been working in IT for how long?

The first thing that will happen is that someone will work out how to trigger those sensors remotely. It's already possible to hack a car from a distance so badly that the brakes no longer work, so if I was those regulators I'd focus on that first, THEN try again.

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Happy

Re: Hmm

When they get the cars and everything else where it can be "hacked" at a distance just think what kind of havoc that someone can cause. Shut down part of the power grid over loading the rest. triggering the brakes on the cars on the freeway, turnpikes and autobahns would cause a prime time to do all kinds of damage.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

The Focus only recognises a number plate in front and then brakes to avoid. This was amply demonstrated by a Salesman in Harrogate who demonstrated the feature using a brick wall......

Where he promptly crashed.

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Stop

I'm not entirely sure I trust such a system. Could you imagine it glitching on the motorway and throwing the anchors on...

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No more likely than...

- the engine stalling (and engines are all driven by computers nowadays)

- your airbags deploying

- a wheel falling off

And much less likely than a collision caused by human error (probably caused by someone being distracted by a mobile phone or being lulled into a false sense of security because of all the "safety" features onboard).

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HMB
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Re: No more likely than...

I don't agree. Your air bags go off when the car get's deformed, that's a pretty secure switching mechanism.

Radar and laser detection? Will there be an accident when a shopping bag blows out into the road as a car slams on?

I see people throwing bits of foil off bridges and laughing a lot.

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Anonymous Coward

I could indeed imagine it. The Honda CR-V has had this in for the last 6 years in the Advanced Safety Pack.

It sounds great, but imagine a congested M6 Southbound around Sandbach, say, in which a cheeky Audi weaving through the traffic cuts in front of you.

The proportionate response is to dip the accelerator and put some distance between you.

The car's response is to detect a sudden drop in distance between you and the car in front, and slam on.

The car behind's response is to scream "what the fudge have you slammed on for?!!!" as he receives the business end of a drivers airbag to the face.

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I'm quite looking forward to this... It could be the end of tailgating Audis... Just deploy a favourite British technique known as window. Aka a load of bits of aluminium foil deployed from the rear of the vehicle.

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Do you really think they haven't thought of this?

To above two posters: this automatic braking only works below a certain speed. The algorithms are very sophisticated, well-tested and conservative. The idea of a polythene bag causing the car to slam its brakes on is laughable, as is a car cutting in front, which is not a rapidly-approaching object but is an object travelling at almost the same speed that appears in the field of view incredibly slowly from the collision avoidance system's perspective. Far more likely that a driver would mistake a polythene bag or being cut up for something more serious than the collision-avoidance system would. And if the Honda has had this system for six years and it suffers from the faults you speculate about, where are the documented cases of it happening?

You've got used to air bags and ABS, both of which are systems which rely on sensors and algorithms which can fail. This is merely an extension of that concept - its sophistication made possible because of developments in technology since ABS and air bags became available - and I bet at that time you'd have moaned about air bags going off and ABS failing and locking your wheels or depriving you of brakes in exactly the same way.

By the way, the Highway Code has something to say about maintaining distance. If you drive in a manner that causes you to crash into the car in front if it slams on its brakes due to human error then you are FAR more likely to suffer a collision from that than from an automatic braking system.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do you really think they haven't thought of this?

"algorithms are very sophisticated, well-tested and conservative"

Well the bl**dy parking sensors in my wife's Touran drive me nuts. They detect ANYTHING, leaves, grass, paper,ghosts, 1" high kerbs

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Parking sensors

Do you honestly think this system bears any resemblance to "parking sensors"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re. It could be the end of tailgating Audis

I have good news for you there: I never tailgate. I have an S4, so I'm past you before you even realise I was there.

And you'll overtake me again when I am refuelling (it's a V8) :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Parking sensors

"Do you honestly think this system bears any resemblance to "parking sensors"?"

Er, yes - these are relatively sophisticated, they'll measure a parking space and then auto-park the car - but they still drive me mad.

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Re: Re. It could be the end of tailgating Audis

You dork.

It doesn't matter if YOU tailgate. It matters if the person BEHIND you tailgates.

You can't control the 4x4 on your butt. And rest assured if YOU stop quickly you WILL get hurt. Even though it is NOT your fault.

Tailgating is prolific on UK's motorways. I am cautious with my laser guided cruise control because occasionally it hits the brakes if there's a bright sunset, so I have to keep my finger on the button to switch it off at any moment.

I think auto stop is stupid. Problem is many drivers are even more stupid and there are no police to enforce safety issues on the road.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re. It could be the end of tailgating Audis

Auto downvote for use of 'dork'

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Parking sensors

Parking sensors have got to be the daftest gimmick out. When I start my car in the morning they bleep and bloop and squeal at me from all directions, because nothing in my garage is outside "collision range". My usual routine now is start engine, engage reverse, hit the "shut the FUCK up" switch, exit garage. The only real risk is clipping a wing mirror on the edge of the door (there's only 5cm clearance). Do the parking sensors see that? Do they buggery.

If you can't park a car correctly by eye then either buy a smaller car, or hand back your licence.

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Stop

Do Not Want

That's all.

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Stop

The only way this should become a "standard" is if there is a definite way to determine whether the brakes were slammed on by computer or human intervention. Otherwise I see a lot of issues with regards to dodgy insurance claims (he ran into the back of me because my car auto-braked ,etc.)

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Aren't there enough already?

Air bags for instance - people could argue that an accident was caused by an air bag going off spontaneously rather than after you drove into someone.

While maybe 10% of cars are driving around with a faulty brake light I doubt this is a significant extra concern.

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Might be logged

I imagine Auto Break by the car would be logged on the cars ECU the same as standard parameters

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@iCode

(he ran into the back of me because my car auto-braked ,etc.)

That would be the other drivers fault, regardless if it was you or the car that braked.

I'm not british, but I would imagine your laws saying something about maintaining a proper distance to the car in front.

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Re: @iCode

It does indeed.

Hitting someone up the arse is almost always the fault of the person behind.

You might have a hope of arguing it was the car in front which caused it if their brake lights didn't work, but given you'll have just converted their rear lamps into the world's most impossible jigsaw, you might have problem proving it.

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Coat

Re: @iCode

Hitting someone up the arse is almost always the fault of the person behind

That's what my wife keeps telling me..

But, but, I wanted to be here all week..

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Re: @iCode

With filament brake lamps it's easy to prove that they weren't working (given forensic investigation). If they were on when they got broken (or activated afterwards) the tungsten filament will have burned into tungsten oxides. If they were disconnected that can't happen. Likewise if the filament was broken prior to the impact.

With LED arrays it may be harder.

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Re: @iCode

Very true, but the likely hood of the old Bill deploying a forensic team to your RTA is rather slim.

Unless of course the driver behind happens to be an MP, large donator to the ruling party or a free mason.

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Meh

Risk Vs Reward......

Or, in this case: Complexity vs Benefit. Bringing a complex system into every production car within 2 years from the current status indicated by the article:

"A number of car makers offer AEB as an optional extra - Ford with the new Focus, for instance - but many don't even do that, and it's certainly not standard."

Let it be an optional extra for people that want to pay extra for it. Let them develop the system (iron out the bugs, dare I say it) for at least a decade before it's rolled out onto every production vehicle as standard.

Personally, I drive a '99 car I bought for £500 with 105k on the clock. Good fuel efficiency, and I can strip it down and work on the engine myself. Adding more systems has a greater effect on maintenance and fault finding than it does on the initial purchase price...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Risk Vs Reward......

What '99 car do you drive? I can't think of (m)any for which routine maintenance would entail an engine strip. Is it a late registered Yugo or a Lada or something?

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Holmes

Re: Risk Vs Reward......

@AC 11:51

<off topic>

That's a fair comment. It partly depends on what degree of dismantlement constitutes "an engine strip". I drive a '99 Punto Mk1 16 Valve, and have had to change the timing belt & coolant pump (routine every 45k miles) and a thermostat that failed open when I bought it. I've done 10k miles in 6 months since the purchase without any problems.

Before that, I had a '93 Punto Mk1 8 Valve, which was notorious for head gaskets made of gummy bears. At 100k miles, I had to change the head gasket on that car, along with timing belt, water pump, starter motor, oil sump and exhaust manifold. I picked up all the parts pretty cheap and was able to do all the work with a friend on my drive without needing a computer interface to the engine. 12 weeks after getting it on the road, my g/f wrote it off, so I decided to buy the 16 Valve Punto as I know how to work on them now, having made all my mistakes working on the old car. It really is amazing what living by the sea in Scotland does to my car's entropy!

</off topic>

Back on topic, however, I have several friends that like to buy newer cars packed with sensors and electronics. Some of them have developed electronic faults that they have to go to the official dealers' garage to diagnose; with a few cases where they couldn't even work out what was wrong after £100's of tests. Having spent time and effort maintaining after my own car, I've looked back at some of the dreadful jobs some garages have done on my car, and I dread the thought entrusting the care of a complex auto-braking system to cowboys like them.

This feature creep of compulsory extras will bloat cars to the point where they start to resemble a certain piece of Apple digital media software....

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Headmaster

I thought...

..cars without AEB could get an NCAP rating, they just couldn't get 5 stars

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Re: I thought...

looks like new commercial vehicles will need it for type approval.

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Terminator

Overtaking fail potential?

When accelerating for an overtaking manoeuvre it's sometimes necessary to get a bit of momentum to get past Miss Daisy holding everyone up.. not good if the car has other ideas and decides to slam on the anchors when it gets nervous. I wonder how the car will deal with this scenario? I also wonder whether some clown will produce some spoofing/jamming devices to confuse the mechanism?

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Re: Overtaking fail potential?

By saying that preparing to overtake is not an excuse to be six inches off the bumper of the car in front (i.e. so close that you'd NEVER be able to react and stop if they did, especially with your attention diverted to whether the next lane is clear, etc.)?

In that case, it's not a question of "the autobrake made me stop when I was overtaking" so much as "if the driver in front had hit the brakes for any reason anyway, we'd both be dead".

This is probably *WHY* the AEB can reduce accidents by 27%. Don't get close enough that your car can't come to a full stop before hitting the car in front and it will NEVER be an issue.

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Re: Overtaking fail potential?

The advert for the Focus states that it only works at low speeds, I'm not sure of the exact figure, but it's something like 13mph or slower.

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Facepalm

Re: Overtaking fail potential?

So it's designed for women parking in Tescos then? That's not going to save many lives, only blushes.

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Re: Overtaking fail potential?

I'm not looking for a critique of my driving style but I was making a comment about the potential danger of dumb electronics overruling something that a human has actively decided to do after judging all parameters. What next - auto braking when you're doing 45 in a 40?

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Re: Overtaking fail potential?

"That's not going to save many lives, only blushes."

True, but it could stop the classic "I thought they were pulling out on to the roundabout and then they didn't" accident, and every minor accident avoided helps the roads flow better and keep insurance costs down.

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Unhappy

Re: Overtaking fail potential?

"...In that case, it's not a question of "the autobrake made me stop when I was overtaking" so much as "if the driver in front had hit the brakes for any reason anyway, we'd both be dead".

This is probably *WHY* the AEB can reduce accidents by 27%. Don't get close enough that your car can't come to a full stop before hitting the car in front and it will NEVER be an issue...."

I agree. The major thing that reduces or stops accidents is the knowledge that IF you drive in a stupid fashion you WILL eventually hit something, and that will either hurt or cost you, and possibly someone else as well. Either way, it's going to be a problem for you.

If the government INSISTS on removing all possible risks, people are going to behave as if those risks didn't exist. It's a bit like the government deciding to remove pain sensors from everybody's skin. Seriously bad move...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Overtaking fail potential?

Actually, I already plenty of that scenario if I'm not careful with my car's anti-slip system. It once gave me a near heart attack when it killed off most engine power when I needed to make a turn to slot into traffic. It suddenly decided one of my wheels could possibly slip and clipped engine power for a moment - not the thing you want when you're used to a lot of horses on tap.

Now I know I kill the damn thing when I have a manoeuvre like that, but that defeats the idea of it being automatic. It's not its fault it doesn't know I know how to drive (lots of pro training), but I have no way of altering its parameters..

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Another move in the arms race?

With all these things, the stats are to be viewed with caution. Collision rates might drop 27% initially, but people will start to compensate (consciously or subliminally) by being more reckless because they think they don't have to concentrate on the road ahead properly any more. And the risk for others might go up, just like with the silly compulsory daytime lights which make drivers less lightly to notice non-illuminated objects such as cyclists and pedestrians.

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Re: Another move in the arms race?

Is that where 'global warming' came from?

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ABS as well?

Have they already mandated ABS?

If not, I can see this being interesting, computer slams brakes on, wheels lock, car doesn't stop, driver can't steer or do anything to regain control...

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Re: ABS as well?

Since 2007.

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Re: ABS as well?

Yes 2007.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ABS as well?

And a bad idea it was too. Most don't realise the pumps/valve assembly is prone to seizure unless exercised regularly. And ABS on it's own isn't much good in slippery conditions.

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