What is AEBS and why are Automakers Embracing the Tech?

AEBS stands for Advanced Emergency Braking Systems, one of several advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) that automakers are currently pushing onto consumers.  Other tech includes: lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning system, adaptive cruise control, and dynamic headlights. There are many forms of ADAS available with some built into new cars, some available as an add-on package or as retrofits to older vehicles. Next-generation ADAS will increasingly be part of the connected car universe in V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) and V2X (vehicle-to-infrastructure) communications.

Earlier this month, 40 countries agreed on a draft United Nations resolution that all new cars and light commercial vehicles, beginning in 2020, would require AEBS. Countries in this agreement include Japan and the European Union which represents some 19 million new cars each year. The agreement imposes strict and harmonized requirements for automatic braking at speeds of up to 60 km per hour (37 miles per hour). This standardizes AEBS for all countries so that it is easier for both automakers and consumers to understand the scope of the technology.

The UN Economic Commission for Europe spokesman Jean Rodriquez said recently, “AEBS activates the brake to stop a crash and that’s it…it will not drive, it will brake.” He added that there will be no obligation to retrofit older vehicles.

The three largest car markets, the United States, China and India are not part of the agreement.

What is AEBS?

AEBS works as a collision avoidance system that has been designed to prevent or reduce the severity of vehicle crashes. It automatically brakes a vehicle if sensors detect an imminent collision. AEBS is frequently paired with a Forward Collision Warning System or FCW which alerts the driver with a sound warning when a crash is imminent. The overall technology for AEBS is similar to what automakers are using for driverless cars just with a different purpose. Radar, LIDAR and a camera are all components.

AEBS is most effective in city street traffic at lower speeds. According to safety experts, a different system called adaptive cruise control, works better at higher speeds (if lanes are clear). Adaptive cruise control uses the same sensors as AEBS. Instead the sensors are used to maintain speed and automatically slow down a vehicle if deemed necessary to stay at a safe distance away from other vehicles.

US Adoption

Many US automakers have already been placing AEBS on luxury vehicles and now the technology is starting to appear on cheaper car models. Automakers have made a voluntary commitment to have AEBS as a new car standard by 2022. Unclear if this standard will be the same as the UN resolution standard.

AEBS Downside

Drivers cannot test the AEBS unless they are close to a crash.  If one part of the complex system does not work and a driver relies on this tech to avoid a crash, there lies a potentially fatal downside.

This appears to be happening with a number of Nissan’s AEB systems. Systems are malfunctioning and stopping in unexpected places. Autoconnectedcar.com received a number of reader concerns:

“My 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid is in the shop for the 4x today for the faulty braking system. They find the codes and clear them saying Nissan won’t let them try and fix it. The issue started at 500 mile. I am scared to drive it because the braking system will engage for no reason”

“I HAVE A MORE SERIOUS AND POTENTIALLY DEADLY SITUATION with my front sensor. The front sensor actually malfunctioned and engaged the brakes!! I was driving on a highway @50 mph when the emergency braking system kicked in and brought my vehicle to a complete stop!!!”

Nissan owners have already filed two class action lawsuits to help owners out of this fix. Nissan has not recalled any of the models affected (2015-18 Nissan Rouge, Rouge Sport, Murano, Altima, Maxima, Armada, Pathfinder, Leaf and Sentra) nor have provided remedies to solve the problems.

Apparently, the problems are not just one part of the sensor display and different models use different sensors.  Autoconnectedcar.com reported that a part called Sensor Assy-Distance apparently is one of the components that is not working correctly. Different Nissan models have different part numbers which makes this problem even tougher to diagnose and correct. For example, the Sensor Assy-Distance part number in the Sentra is 28438-5UD0A: the Rogue, the part number is 28438-5FA1A.  They are both Bosch radar sensors in the front grill.

The complexity of these systems is the same complexity that plagues driverless and connected vehicles.

Of course, these systems can be a lifesaver if the driver is attentive and does not over rely on driver assisted tech. Unfortunately, drivers need to maintain the same vigilance as ever to avoid accidents. Also, car owners need the ability to turn these complex systems off, if they do not think the driver assisted tech is working properly.

Nissan claims that if motorists don’t want to use their car’s AEBS, they can turn off driver assist functions (found in the main dashboard menu) every time before they drive. At least, drivers can turn it off knowing that they won’t dead stop for no reason in the middle of a busy highway.

Turning off driver assist functions, however, can be deadly, especially in driverless cars.

In March 2018, an Uber driverless car ran over and killed a Tempe, Arizona woman.  Many mistakes were made here but the subsequent National Transportation Safety Board Report stated that if the Volvo involved in the crash had its AEBS system turned on, the outcome of the tragedy might have been much different.

AEBS and other driver assisted tech can really be a helpful aide but car owners have to remember that this tech is not free. Consumers pay for everything that goes on a new vehicle and we need to demand that this tech works before and after we buy a car.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.


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