Call for 'anti-crash' technology on cars

Three different vehicle systems that will mitigate, and in some cases prevent, low-speed collisions have been evaluated by motor research company Thatcham

These low-speed incidents make up three-quarters of all motor accidents. Thatcham believes that if the systems now available are fitted as standard on all vehicles there will be a drastic drop in road casualties, eventually preventing 125,000 injuries a year in Britain.

The company outlined the new technology at the TRL transport research centre at Crowthorne, Berkshire.

The systems are:

  • The Volvo City Safety. This will be fitted as standard to the Volvo XC60 which will be on sale from November. The system uses a laser radar (lidar) mounted behind the windscreen and is active at up to 20mph. It is programmed to respond if the vehicle in front is either at a standstill or is moving in the same direction as the car itself. The brakes are pre-charged and should a collision be imminent it applies them and cuts the throttle. If the car is travelling below 10mph the system should prevent the collision entirely and at a speed of up to 20mph will reduce the impact by half.
  • The Mercedes Distronic Plus. This is currently available on some Mercedes S-class models. It uses two radar systems linked to the car's cruise control system to maintain a safe distance from the car in front. It provides a continual calculation of the distance between the vehicle in front and the speed differential between them and will bring the car to a complete stop if necessary.
  • The Honda CMBS. Currently on the Honda CR-V, it is a radar system that again calculates the distance and the speed differential with the vehicle in front. The driver receives visual and audible warnings before brakes are progressively activated. Seat belts are also tightened to alert the driver of an impending problem and lessen any resulting injuries.

However, Thatcham points out that if a crash is unavoidable, damage to poorly positioned sensors can add considerably to repair costs.

Image: Following its tests on three such systems, Thatcham has given cautious approval to the concept of automated anti-crash solutions

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