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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  1. jb99

    Hmm

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

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Hmm

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

      1. ZankerH
        Thumb Up

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm

          "less people will die on the roads."

          FEWER

        2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          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.

          1. Curly4
            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.

    2. spodula

      Re: Hmm

      The insurance companies already pretty much did that.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  2. TheKeffster
    Stop

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

    1. handle

      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).

      1. HMB

        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. handle

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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

          1. handle

            Parking sensors

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

            1. Anonymous Coward
              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.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            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.

    3. Steve Evans

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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) :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

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

            Auto downvote for use of 'dork'

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Stop

    Do Not Want

    That's all.

  4. iCode86
    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.)

    1. handle

      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.

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Might be logged

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

    3. KjetilS

      @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.

      1. Steve Evans

        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.

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
          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..

        2. Nigel 11

          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.

          1. Steve Evans

            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.

  5. ElectricFox
    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...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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?

      1. ElectricFox
        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....

  6. Captain TickTock
    Headmaster

    I thought...

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

    1. Captain TickTock

      Re: I thought...

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

  7. Tegne
    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?

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      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.

      1. Tegne
        Thumb Down

        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?

      2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
        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...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

      1. Tegne
        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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..

  8. handle

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another move in the arms race?

      Is that where 'global warming' came from?

  9. Alister Silver badge

    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...

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: ABS as well?

      Since 2007.

    2. annodomini2 Bronze badge

      Re: ABS as well?

      Yes 2007.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. richard 7

          Re: ABS as well?

          ABS is designed to help you retain control NOT stop you faster. Common misconception. Its a PITA on snow though as it destroys the snow wedge that forms and helps you stay in control/stop

        2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

          Re: ABS as well?

          Eh? Sounds like a design flaw in a particular model to me, not anything resembling a natural occurrence that's part-and-parcel of having ABS.

          I drive a 1995 car. The ABS works perfectly. I can attest to that, especially that year of bad snow when I was driving through Europe and the Alps with it on virtually solid ice and I felt it kick it all the time (my demo to a German acquaintance who was front passenger was to slam on the brakes at 10mph on solid ice/snow and see the stopping distance on a completely empty / straight road - shocked him just how far you can go even with ABS, and shut him up about me having an enormous braking distance in front of me all the time).

          The ABS hasn't got much exercise outside that and didn't for years (it was sitting on someone's drive for years, according to the paperwork), and I've never had to service the ABS side of it, ever. My dad is a mechanic of 40 years (actually engineer for an entire fleet for many years) and distrusts all modern technology on a car, but he'd have mentioned it or forbade me to drive the car until he'd checked it, if it was that common for ABS. Maybe you're just buying junk?

          ABS only falls below the braking power of an experienced driver on completely loose gravel (like a private driveway), compared to non-ABS cars. In all other circumstances, it's better than a skilled driver doing any amount of brake-pumping (and rightly so - can you detect wheel slippage and completely come off the brake and reapply dozens of times a second? No.), and in that circumstance that it's inferior on, it's not inferior by much and is so uncommon as to not be worth worrying about (unless you WANT to skid into a gravel driveway at 70mph). On classic roads, ice, snow, etc. it's actually far superior. That's *WHY* it's mandated.

          1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

            But sadly..

            .. for ABS to work, it needs a car to have the ability to STOP braking, under electronic control. And that's exactly what researchers used when they were researching remote hacking of cars: they locked up ABS so you had NO brakes. None whatsoever.

            That's why I have reservations about mandating more gadgetry - let's first sort out the security issues. Otherwise I'll order my car just "before* this comes in..

          2. Santa from Exeter

            Re: ABS as well?

            Actually, ABS can be a real pain to me at times. I regularly drive along a lane which can often have mud at the side, whilst the crown can be clear and dry. The number of times the ABS engages under even mild braking is alarming, as is the times it even operates under acceleration!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe a better idea

    would be a system which cut power when you get too close to the car in front ?

  11. MrXavia
    Facepalm

    So who pays for the extra £1k onto the price of a car?, since the last car I looked to add it to actually charged abouty £1600 for the extra?

    As to the actual implementation, current ones seem to operate only under 30MPH so overtaking shoulnd't be an issue I assume....

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      The idiot that buys a brand new car. Can't say that I've ever seen the value in a new car whatsoever.

      And by the time it's on the secondhand market there will be YEARS of car where it's been compulsory, so cars will all have it after a certain time, and thus it will add £0 to the price that the secondhand buyer's willing to pay.

      Depreciation with a car is a given. Similarly, I never paid any extra because my 1995 Mondeo has an air bag, electric windows or a larger engine. By the time a car hits the second hand market all the "compulsory" items are standard and you won't pay extra at all for them and all the fancy "extras" like stereos, electric windows, sunroof, etc. factor so little into the cost that it's not worth worrying about.

      It's only the first-buyer who's silly enough to pay through the nose for those items in the first place, and absorb the cost of the car. Everyone after that profits purely from his acceptance of depreciation. In a few years, your car won't sell for more than a few grand. It's as simple as that. And even then, I'd consider that expensive.

      Had my car for about 4 years now. 50mpg. Perfect running. Still going strong, still "empty" MOT certificates (last "problem" was a cracked windscreen washer bottle), still perfectly drivable. Cost me £300 when I bought it and I've spent about the same again on essential replacements (e.g. tyres). Hell, when the front windscreen caught a stone, I didn't bother to claim it on my insurance because it only cost £100 to get a full replacement with heating elements, fitted on my front lawn. And when someone scratches your door in a car park... meh, who cares?

      1. Number6

        New Cars?

        I bought a new car back in 1999 and I've still got it now. Bits are starting to wear out, but I think I've had full value from the purchase. However, no electric windows, no sunroof, no ABS, which is probably why it's still going.

      2. Sandtitz Silver badge
        IT Angle

        Why buy new?

        If you can afford a new car, I see no problem buying a brand new car.

        If you can afford a new laptop, I see no problem buying a brand new laptop.

        If you can afford a new mobile phone, I see no problem buying a brand new mobile phone.

        What's the difference?

        I can see a lot of value in a new car: Warranty, no MOT tests for the first years, A/C standard, known history, they're safer (eg. passenger/side airbags, isofix mountings), and of course the luxury of the new car smell. :-)

        If you still truly see no value in a new car, your reality distortion field is working very well!

        Your yearly vehicle tax is £220 whereas a new diesel Mondeo has a tax of £30 to £125 depending on engine size. And the mileage is better too. Factor that into your calculations too.

        1. Ford_Prefect

          Re: Why buy new?

          And factor in after that.. new car depreitaion in the first year is more than my annual yearly spend in entirety (fuel, tax, insuarnce and MOT) in a year. My SAAB 900 convrtible cost less than £500 (It's now worth quiet a bit more), to pass the MOT last time when it was due cost... £54 (the cost of the test) I can work on it myself so serviceing is easy and in 5 years its needed nothing more very glad I opted out of the company car for somthing a bit differnt the new cars I had then were far more troublesome, sorry new cars make no sence whatsoever. New modeo diesels eat injectors as well which is not cheap, soon kills any savings on fuel and tax over the petrol one. BMW diesles are even worse with flywheel issues.

          I am now looking for a Sereis 1 XJ6 pre dec 31st '72 to run on LPG

          1. Sandtitz Silver badge

            Re: Why buy new?

            The difference between you and me is that I'm just an IT geek - I can't service my car and I'm not even interested in it.

  12. Natalie Gritpants

    Even better idea

    Insist on cruise control being installed in every car then the car in front will be much less likely to randomly change speed.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Even better idea

      I really dislike cruise control.

      It means that drivers have an incentive not to maintain a good separation between them and the car in front because they have to disable it (and thus re-enable it) to do so.

      It probably also increases stopping distance because they won't have their foot on a pedal - so further to physically move before braking starts.

      I've driven a few cars with it, tried it out and decided that I had less control of the vehicle so I don't use it at all now.

      1. KjetilS
        FAIL

        @Richard 12

        It means that drivers have an incentive not to maintain a good separation between them and the car in front because they have to disable it (and thus re-enable it) to do so.

        My experience is the exact opposite.

        You have to have quite a lot more separation between you and the car in front to make the most of the cruise control, for exactly the reason you mention.

        If you don't, then you have to disable and re-enable it to not bump into the car in front.

        By keeping a good distance, you can drive on cruise control by adjusting your speed with the steering wheel buttons.

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Re: @Richard 12

          Cruise control also cuts down *substantially* on speeding tickets ..

          My fav use of cruise control is alongside roadworks which narrow the road. If traffic allows (you need some room) I set speed at what is allowed, which then leaves me 100% free to watch the road and other drivers instead of having to guard against going 3 miles over and being penalised for watching traffic for safety reasons..

          Oh, and smooth changes of speed are good for fuel consumption.

        2. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: @Richard 12

          Yes, to drive safely you do have to do that.

          However, if you take a look at a motorway you'll clearly that that very few drivers really do so.

          I see a lot of tailgating action on the motorways that looks exactly like "Set cruise control slightly too fast, get really close to the car in front then suddenly realise too close and slow down a lot."

          Oddly enough, almost always the cars that have this feature as standard.

          Adaptive cruise control is supposed to fix that, perhaps it does.

  13. Wibble257
    Thumb Down

    There is too much technology in cars already, this will just add more expense to the owner.

  14. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Hmmmmm

    I haven't had the experience of driving a car with low speed AEB yet, but my '03 Nissan with lidar-based adaptive cruise control has a irritating tendency to "shy" and brake when approaching curves in the road, alongside tatty hedges, and when approaching low mounted curbside signs on the A3. I've experienced similar things in friends' more recent Toyotas too.

    I hope the technology has improved somewhat in the last 7-8 years.

    (lidar-assisted ACC only works above 25mph, but once you have lidar assisted braking then the only extra electronics cost to add cruise control is for the steering wheel controls.)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    can reduce the number of accidents on Europe's roads by 27 per cent.

    Or maybe they could just teach the drivers to drive competently and enforce a decent standard to get a permit. Italians especially must be the worst in developed Europe, (expat in Italy).

  16. Blofeld's Cat
    FAIL

    Hmm...

    I can't help feeling that "I though my car was going to brake, but it didn't" is going to look rather stupid on an accident claim form.

  17. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    2 words....

    Renault

    Electronics.

    Hahahahaha

    1. Captain TickTock

      Re: 2 words....

      Peugeot!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More popular than the article suggests

    The new Mazda CX-5 comes with it as standard, it's even an option on the Skoda Citigo, it has been an option on the Honda CR-V (the Advanced Safety Pack)...

    These devices work at speeds below 29mph - quite a nice option at low speeds and sometimes combined with adaptive cruise control it makes sense to maximise use of the technology installed.

  19. Alex King
    FAIL

    Hang on...

    Are you saying that a car will get no NCAP stars at all if it doesn't have such a system, or just that it'll lose a few points. I can't see this being the former, especially if this is less than 18 months away.

    I'd happily buy a 0*-NCAP rated car. In fact I have, when I bought a rather old one a few years ago.

    If, as people are suggesting, this might be a low-speed only system, then while it may reduce prangs by a certain percentage, it'll be the less severe and dangerous ones. Whoop de do.

    Oh, and to the person who suggested that it'll have no impact on price because options' values are largely wiped out come resale time, and that only idiots should buy new: guess what - if it wasn't for those idiots then there would be a smaller used car market which would push up prices. The cost of these options is hidden in the prices of all stuff that these depreciating assets are used to do and the companies and other organisations which use them. There is so much economics fail in your post it's practically unquantifiable.

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Hang on...

      I didn't suggest that new-car-buyers weren't necessary. Hell, I've only ever owned second-hand.

      I merely pointed out, to answer the question about who's going to PAY for this, that the only people who would pay for those extras are the new-car-buyers. By the time those cars filter to the second-hand car market, the "cost" of those extra parts would be a tiny percentage of a tiny amount of money in comparison.

      That's the cost of buying a new car, that the next buyer will see all your fancy extras and expenses as nothing worth paying extra for. Hell, even if you go by *percentage*, the used-car-buyer probably pays even less a percentage of their overall purchase cost for such fancy addon's than the new-car-buyer did (i.e. if the extras cost 10% of the price of a new car, the second-hand buyer would almost certainly value them at less than 10% of the second-hand cost!).

    2. handle
      Facepalm

      Hello considerate driver...

      @Alex King: "If, as people are suggesting, this might be a low-speed only system, then while it may reduce prangs by a certain percentage, it'll be the less severe and dangerous ones. Whoop de do."

      Less severe and dangerous for *you* - but will probably cover most cases of you hitting pedestrians and cyclists (be it your fault or theirs). Still, that's not important is it? Whoop de do.

  20. Anthony Cartmell
    Unhappy

    Safety enhancements are used as performance enhancements

    Oh dear. This "safety" enhancement will very rapidly be turned into a performance enhancement. Drivers will learn to drive with reduced margins of error and thus much less safety. If you know that the car will brake automatically, at the very last minute, then you can save effort and potentially shave a few milliseconds off your journey by letting the car do the braking.

    Our roads don't need safer cars, they need cars that are less dangerous for everyone and everything not in a car. That means cars that have MUCH less kinetic energy when moving, wherever they might come into contact with car-less human beings.

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Safety enhancements are used as performance enhancements

      It's generally agreed and proven that the best way to improve vehicle safety would be to mandate mounting a large spike in the centre of every steering wheel that would skewer the driver if they ever had an accident or brake too hard. It's a cast-iron guarantee that people with those cars would drive more slowly and more carefully and take all the harsh abuse of the cars steering/braking out of their daily commute.

      Pulling a car down to having so little kinetic energy that it wouldn't kill a pedestrian is almost impossible. Even a bike can kill at 20+mph. You'd literally have to go back to little men walking in front of the car with a red flag, and even then it wouldn't be accident-free (fork-trucks are usually very low speed but can easily kill people if they back into them near a solid object - hey you can take an entire superstore out if you're not careful when loading the shelves with one at <5mph).

      The better thing would be separation. Move the dangerous, fast-moving, heavy things away from the fragile items. Follow Belgium's example and put all the roads underground. Don't have "streets", have pedestrian areas and vehicle areas clearly separated and make the speed limit 5mph where the two meet.

      But, some would argue, the riots involved in taking away current freedoms, changing EVERY road and every vehicle and every driving law would probably hurt more people than they would have saved in road safety.

  21. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Terrifying

    On a narrow road I sometimes decide to speed up to pass an approaching car where the road gets wider.

  22. James Pickett

    @Hmm..

    I can foresee complications when someone used to automatic braking drives another car without it.

    Also, it's another turn of the screw towards central supervision of driver behaviour, with external control of anything that doesn't comply with current requirements/thinking.

    Glad I've got a motorbike...

    1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

      Re: @Hmm..

      As a biker you will of course be aware of all those wonderful ideas that come out of TRL such as predictive braking based on GPS saying you are approaching a bend too fast, not to mention that horrendous idea (which fortunately got quietly shelved) where they planned a chest-rest plate to stop bikers being thrown off the bike in a collision.

      'Motorbikes are dangerous' say that statisticians so they get lots more safety improvements proposed than cars even if they are neither safe nor an improvement,

      1. Penguin
        Megaphone

        Re: @Hmm..

        Motorcycles are just too hard to fit safety gizmos to and expect them to work,

        Combined Brakes, ABS and Traction Control - You're still going to crash, eventually. If you really want to save some lives, stop idiot car drivers using the bloody phone while driving, the last time I got taken out on my bike some idiot on a phone changed lane with no warning, no indicator and didn't look. It amazes me how many people still drive on the phone. Why concentrate on high tech solutions when the problem is the driver being either unable to drive safely or so distracted that they aren't paying attention. When you are driving a two ton suit of armour then people think they are invulnerable. I have a plan for this - make people commute to work for one week a year on a little 50cc scooter - let's see how much attention you have to pay to traffic now without crumple zones.

        The thing I find really amazing is that a non-government organisation is effectively dictating European policy because, as you correctly point out - most people won't buy a car without an NCAP rating.

        1. handle

          make people commute to work for one week a year on a little 50cc scooter

          I agree. After making them commute to work for one week a year on a bicycle. Then they will see what a threat "little 50cc scooters" can be - even when not ignoring the advanced stop lines.

  23. The Axe
    FAIL

    Speed

    And at what speed will such braking systems come into play? I'm not into cars that much, but the only adverts I've noticed for auto braking have legal fine print that says they only work upto 20mph.

    I can't see them working at speed higher than that AND knowing what the driver really intends to do.

  24. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    WTF?

    I wonder what happens...

    ...if you're driving cautiously on an icy road, and a car in front stops. You would want to reduce your speed veeery gradually, to stop sliding.

    If you reduce speed gradually, the electronics might not think you were braking fast enough, and might apply them a bit harder?

    Just asking......

    1. handle

      Re: I wonder what happens...

      The car has an antilock braking system. This will limit the action of the brakes in the same way that it would if you slammed your foot on the pedal, and stop you from sliding.

      But of course you'd never be in that situation because you'd be obeying the Highway Code's rules on stopping distance.

      Just answering.....

  25. NickR

    vs spending money on learning to drive properly

    These devices have a cost, I bet my left arm (because my right one is now faulty due to an non-fault RTA) , that if the same money was spent on improving driving skills there would be a better benefit to general road safety than relying on electronics.

    1. SomeCallMeTim
      Facepalm

      Re: vs spending money on learning to drive properly

      ah but improving ones driving skills or actually paying attention would be too much of an effort especially for the French. I'm currently working in France and the driving standards here are so appalling I fear for my life every time I drive. This is mostly due to them being too ignorant to realise that driving 2ft from the car in front or overtaking without being able to see ahead is in any way dangerous and also due to them being drunk most of the time. This new braking system would help preventing rear shunts over here but as the French only drive clapped out unserviced French cars the systems will most likely never work anyway.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about making ABS a legal requirement for all new cars instead?

    Why would the driver not break anyway, there are many reasons and most of them will be do to with not looking at the road or being asleep.

    If the car does auto-break then this fact should be recorded on their driving licence and a driving ban imposed with immediate effect.

    1. John Goodwin 4
      FAIL

      Auto 'break'

      Last car that did that to me was a Peugeot. Ohhhh, you meant brake!

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Has been, since 2007, in the EU.

  27. gagaga

    That will be definitely ...

    ... the last time I will buy a new car.

    I'm an owner of one of these beloved German premium cars € 40.000 and up.

    Since 2 years this car pesters me with an alert that there is an error within the ESP.

    When I asked the technician during last years general service to read out error

    storage and resolve the error he read out error storage and told me it was a loose

    connection with one of the motion sensors but as it was no permanent failure the

    error got reset every time I switched off the engine and to solve it it would be necessary

    to disassemble part of the car and check all connectors resulting in a bill € 300 at

    least if he did find it quick and open ended depending on time needed to check the

    complete electrical system and system electronics.

    There are already too much electronics in our cars. Moore? No, thank you!

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: That will be definitely ...

      If you can afford a 40,000 Euro car, I'd assume you can afford the 300 Euros as a one-off expense one a year or so to keep it in check and passing the required tests, personally. If you can't.... well, that's a situation that you could have foreseen no matter what the problem was: "300 Euros for a new wing mirror?!". You also have it serviced, presumably by the manufacturer, but I'm assuming outside warranty?

      That said, you've now left it for 2 years with that problem, so it's obviously not that much of a bugbear or you'd have fixed it.

      This is why I stay away from THAT manufacturer, nothing to do with new or old. Hell, last time I helped out a neighbour, they wanted to sell you a £300 cable to provide a "normal" OBD-II socket out of the car because there's was non-standard.

  28. Cyberspice
    FAIL

    What about tailing motorbikes?

    There's a recognised theory called "risk compensation theory" which basically shows that the safer people believe they are the shitter they drive. This is all well and good for the person *in* the car but not for third parties.

    So you've got every car with auto-braking to the point that no one actually bothers about braking because the car will do it for them anyway. What happens when you're following a motorcycle that has to brake suddenly. Its a skinny vehicle. The radar better work with them or I can see a lot of bikers being killed by being taken out by cars that never braked when they should have done.

    Cars are never the only type of vehicle on the roads and assuming they are is bad.

  29. Alan Brown Silver badge

    @gagaga

    "Electronics" vs "connectors" - which are mechanical (but still a lot more reliable than they used to be).

    The number of genuine electronics faults on vehicles is dwarfed by the number of bad connectors - or faults caused by stupid mechanical design such as Volkswagon putting the ECU in the bottom of the passenger footwell, under the carpet, right where it's going ot get flooded if the windows are left down in a storm, or there's a coolant leak inside the cabin, or if the windscreen leaks. (All of which I've seen happen - and even then it was because the connectors all corroded and went unreliable)

    It's amazing how many faults could simply be mitigated entirely by using grease-filled connectors to completely eliminate water ingress - but that adds 0.1p per plug and therefore costs too much.

    As for your sensor problem - as long as you don't switch the car off, the tech can tell you _which_ sensor is playing up - and it's most likely to be the plug nearest the suspension/wheel hub as these are subjected to the most in-use stress. the old rule about never trusting the accredited stealership applies. (An Ex-gf spent 2k on her Mercedes after the dealer told her a bunch of electronics was faulty. Turned out to be a faulty thermostat (40 quid part) keeping the engine cold which in turn caused a cascade of other errors to be logged - the valve position isn't monitored, but any fool could tell there was something wrong by feeling a stone cold engine - Something the "experts" apparently didn't bother to do)

    1. TangD

      Re: @gagaga

      I've given up with the stealers as well, Audi told me the TT needed a new computer at a fitted cost of $2k, I thought at that price I'd get a second opinion and the very nice man who is now looks after my cars diagnosed a faulty connection that made it look to the automated test kit that the computer was shot. Repair cost of $500 if I wanted it done nicely with the new part from audi or $130 if he replaced the cable and put it back in himself. Given it was a 10 year old car repair cost of $130 plus a couple of packs of beer as a little thank you

      Question for those who might know this, to work at the stealers do you need to know ANYTHING about the car or is the ability to plug in the self diagnosis kit enough? Are there skilled people back there that are not allowed to actually check and diagnose problems or do they just not care anymore?

  30. This Side Up
    WTF?

    All will?

    "That means they effectively all will, since no one's going to buy a new car that lacks an NCAP rating."

    No. There are quite a lot of low volume cars that don't have NCAP ratings and will no doubt continue that way.

    Btw it won't stop the vehicle behind slamming into you when your brakes come on before its driver has reacted to the situation.

  31. Bassey

    Unbelievable bunch of stoneage arseholes

    What is it with you lot? As soon as someone even DARES to suggest making a change to your cars you all become chest beating neanderthals! "What if the system suddenly steals my soul and blots out the sun forever?" Seriously? Listen to yourselves. You work in (or have links to) IT and yet dozens of you SERIOUSLY believed that NCAP were so fucking stupid they were going to insist every car had a system so stuperfyingly dangerous it would instantly kill you if a plastic bag blew across a motorway. Even AFTER it had been explained to you that the people that designed the system had GCSEs in not being utterly moronic and had given this thing more than 30s drunken thought the posts have continued to flood in with "But it will deliberately try to kill me if....".

    I absolutely dispair sometimes.

    1. AskOllie.com

      Re: Unbelievable bunch of stoneage arseholes

      Well said (except for the 'dispair' bit). And how many commentors actually read the NCAP article in question? I reckon none, given the ignorance of some of the comments on here.

      Personally, I would like to see more of the details and statistics and think about it, rather than coming to a knee-jerk reaction approx. 8 seconds after reading a 300 word Reg article. I reckon that the folk at Euro NCAP have given it a lot more thought than *everyone* reading this article.

    2. handle
      Thumb Up

      Re: Unbelievable bunch of stoneage arseholes

      Thank you for sparing me the trouble of having to say the same thing (though perhaps a little less trenchantly!). I can only conclude that the comical objections to this system come from some breed of macho motorist who sees their masculinity being undermined by the very notion that something could control their vehicle better than they could and dares to take away their ability to do absolutely anything that they like with it. Notice that their concerns are almost entirely how the technology will affect *them* rather than other parties involved in a collision, and that it's either the technology or the other parties who cause these collisions, never them. Moreover, those other parties are stereotypes conveniently drawn from one end of the spectrum ("the Audi") or the other ("Miss Daisy").

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A friend of mine runs a Dismantlers, the number of lower mileage newer cars is really ramping up as mostly perfectly serviceable cars are broken up because of one Gizmo costing far more than the car is worth to rectify has fried its electronic brain.

    Certain French cars seem particularly prone to this. I have an old 1990 Peugeot 405 estate that has done 233k it still carries garden rubbish, dogs bikes etc and gives a good account when I collect a new batch of slabs for the patio area we are having laid. Still returns around 40mpg on a run too. - not bad for a 1.9 diesel

    New cars... a waste of money, and nowhere near as good as the older less complex ones ones.

  33. Dan Paul
    Devil

    Whatever happened to "Personal Responsibility"?

    I like technology but when it is a replacement for the simple act of driving responsibly I don't feel it should be made mandatory.

    Let's take ABS for example. Friend of mine had a Ford Probe with major ABS problems, car had never been in an accident, decent condition just a little rusty. ABS would just lock up on him at a moments notice. Dealer wanted $3,000 (yes that's right) to replace the ABS "pump" (hydraulic unit) and computer.

    That was twice what my friend had paid for the used car. Obviously he did not go back to the dealer for the repair.

    He later found a few used parts and some new sensors and wiring solved his problems. Most of his issues were caused by corroded electrical connectors. Since he is a very safe (and SLOW) driver, the CBA for the ABS did not make any logical sense.

    As others have mentioned, much of this technology really only serves to unneccessarily increase the cost of the car as well as the "Stealerships" DisService Department coffers. GPS map updates should never come with additional costs, electrical connectors should be IP68 by default, brakelines and fittings should be made from 316L SST and exhaust tubing should not rust.

    Once a car is out of the financial reach of the average man, then his freedom to move is greatly decreased. "The Man" gets even greater control over Working Stiffs and we go back to the era of the "Company Store" with "Company Scrip" and "Company Housing".

    If technology becomes mandated then it's lifespan and warranty should also. Manufacturers should be required to disassemble autos for repairs and fix any design (before sale to the public) that requires the front bumper be dropped to reach the ABS pump or other stupid design debacles such as having to disconnect and lift the engine to change the rear spark plugs. Special tools and Repair Manuals should be provided to the owner WITH the purchase of the vehicle not as an after market item. The minimum lifetime of a car's mandated operating parts should be at least ten years if not longer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whatever happened to "Personal Responsibility"?

      > requires the front bumper be dropped to reach the ABS pump

      ABS pump? I've had cars where you have to take the front bumper off just to replace the HEADLIGHT BULB, ffs. Make the law requiring you to carry a spare bulb a complete waste of time when it takes an hours labour in a garage to change it.

  34. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Re: "I can't help feeling that "I though my car was going to brake, but it didn't" is going to look rather stupid on an accident claim form."

    I've tested my ACC in the motorway. When it decides to brake hard you're probably already feeling uncomfortably close to the car in front. Anyone who actually depended on AEB or ACC to keep them out of that sort of trouble is likely to already have a claims list that's pretty long - or be a driver of "certain upmarket german marques"

    (ACC copes badly with speed differentials over 20mph. If you come up behnd a slow queue, it will brake quite hard to match speed. It's also pretty good at spotting, then losing deer on country lanes.)

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. handle
      Joke

      Re: All the car companies that don't have it

      "You can't make something compulsory unless it's well developed and the tech is covered by FRAND."

      Or you're Microsoft.

  36. Old Handle
    Facepalm

    Damn

    Well, I'm not normally a fan of all this big-government stuff but I got rear-ended probably no more than half an hour after reading this article, so I'm thinking maybe this is actually a good idea.

    Nobody was hurt, and a messed up bumper is about all the damage, but it sure wasn't a fun experience.

  37. jungle_jim

    a Big spike

    though the centre of the steering wheel, will cut down road deaths drastically.

    1. Ford_Prefect

      Re: a Big spike

      Indeed I have long thought you could throw away ABS airbags and impact beams in favor of this and have a greater reduction in accidents and injuries than any of the rubbish they have laden (and thus made use more fuel and thus raise more TAX with) the cars down with

  38. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    27%.? *that* high?

    Would that number make it the *most* influential device for cutting road accidents *ever*?

    Highly suspicious.

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