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How Does Autonomous Emergency Braking Work?

With Autonomous Emergency Braking, or AEB for short, now effectively in just about every new car, it’s become a benchmark requirement in much the same way that ABS and traction control did all those years ago. Obviously, its impact cannot be appreciated enough, reducing all sorts of accidents and saving lives. But how exactly does AEB work? Let’s take a look.


The Basics of AEB

There are three attributes that ultimately play a role in AEB systems.

Autonomous: the system acts independently of the driver to avoid or mitigate the accident.
Emergency: the system will intervene only in a critical situation.
Braking: the system tries to avoid the accident by applying the brakes.


What Does AEB Rely On?

Most AEB systems use radar, a pair of cameras, and/or lidar-based technology to identify potential collision risks ahead of the car.

This information is combined with what the car knows of its own travel speeds thanks to internal sensors and direction of travel. It determines whether or not a critical, or potentially dangerous situation, is developing.

If a potential collision is detected, AEB systems generally, though not exclusively, first try to avoid the impact by warning the driver that action is needed. This could be in the form of a visual warning, such as dashboard mounted flashing lights, or physical warnings.

If no action is taken, and a collision is still expected, the system will then apply the brakes. Some systems apply full braking force. Others may be more subtle in application. Either way, the intention is to reduce the car’s speed. Some systems deactivate as soon as they detect avoidance action being taken by the driver



How AEB Has Evolved?

Most early AEB systems were configured to warn of larger objects such as cars. Over time, these systems have been refined to incorporate features like pedestrian-detection, which is arguably just as much a risk on the roads.

Unlike the early days, where AEB was mostly reserved for passenger vehicles, today you will find it in just about any type of vehicle. Whether it be a sedan, wagon, city car, hatch, ute, or SUV – the technology is firmly embedded across the board. And that is thanks to its significant influence in improving on-road safety.

In 2015, ANCAP and Euro NCAP found that the inclusion of AEB led to a 38% reduction in rear-end crashes at low speed. This percentage will have only increased since then given the advancements that have been made. That firmly puts it in the category of being one of the most important safety attributes you’ll find in any car on the road.