UPDATED: 1/28/16 11:52 am ET - adds details
WASHINGTON -- Automatic braking systems were shown in a new study to reduce rear-end crashes by about 40 percent on average, adding momentum to a push by safety groups, regulators and some automakers to equip all new cars with the technology.
The study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that vehicles with automatic braking and forward collision warning systems had a 39 percent lower incidence of rear-end crashes. Forward collision warning systems alone reduced rear-end collisions by 23 percent, the study found.
The combination of crash-prevention technologies cut the incidence of rear-end crashes involving injuries by 42 percent, but the study’s authors found that collision warning alone had little effect in reducing injury accidents.
“It’s surprising that forward collision warning didn’t show more of an injury benefit,” wrote Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research, given that insurance data found big reductions in injury claims.
The study further concluded that if all vehicles could warn drivers of an imminent collision and automatically apply the brakes, some 700,000 crashes could have been averted in 2013 -- or roughly 13 percent of all police-reported crashes that year.
For the 2015 model year, just 1 percent of vehicles included automatic braking as a standard feature, while 26 percent offered it as an option, according to IIHS.
But the technology is quickly gaining traction. Last year, in a pact brokered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and IIHS, a group of 10 automakers agreed to eventually make automatic braking systems a standard feature on all new cars. Other manufacturers have since joined the pact, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said this month.
The new IIHS findings could help accelerate that rollout. The group, whose research is funded by the insurance industry, has been an influential voice on auto safety, with auto industry engineers often citing IIHS studies to justify the costs of equipping new vehicles with advanced safety systems. The availability of automatic braking is already a key criterion in the IIHS’ closely watched vehicle safety ratings.
“As this technology becomes more widespread, we can expect to see noticeably fewer rear-end crashes,” David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer, said in a statement. “The same goes for the whiplash injuries that often result from these crashes.”
In early 2015, NHTSA also began recommending someautomatic-braking technology as part of its assessment of a vehicle's crash ratings. While automatic braking technology does not affect a vehicle’s star rating, the systems are now included in NHTSA’s list of recommended safety technologies, which include backup cameras, lane-departure and impending-collision warning systems.
The pact signed in September among automakers, NHTSA and IIHS is also expected to drive new business to suppliers as adoption rates for the technology increase across the industry.
The IIHS study reviewed police reports of rear-end crashes in 22 states from 2010 through 2014. The group compared the crash rates of Acura, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru and Volvo vehicles equipped with automatic braking and front-collision warnings against the same models without the technologies. The study looked at crash and injury rates for the vehicles that struck the other vehicle; the vehicles hit from behind were excluded.
You can reach Ryan Beene at email@example.com
BrakesSafety EquipmentLitigationNHTSARegulationVehicle SafetyInsurance Institute for Highway Safety
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Hello, automated driving community! GM and Tesla are involved in automated driving accidents, insurer Allianz wants to change the access to driving data and Europe’s start-ups need stronger support: we bring you this week’s key stories from the world of automated driving.
Last December, a Chevy Bolt was changing lanes on a Californian highway when it collided with a motorbike. Its rider Oscar Nilsson suffered neck and shoulder injuries and is now taking legal action. Nothing to write home about, you may say. And it’s true: sadly, there are thousands of those kind of accidents every day. Except that in this case, the Chevy was operating in autonomous mode. Which means that General Motors is now facing one of the first lawsuits involving an accident with an autonomous vehicle.
Like in every proper legal case, there are two sides to the story. Nilsson’s lawyer claims that the Chevy, which was running in autonomous mode with a back-up driver behind the wheel, “suddenly veered back into Nilsson’s lane, striking Nilsson and knocking him to the ground”. A GM spokesperson, on the other hand, told Jalopnik: “The San Francisco Police Department collision report determined that the motorcyclist merged into our lane before it was safe to do so.”
Courts will have to judge what at first looks like a run of the mill civil lawsuit – but the impact of the decision could be far-reaching because it touches a fundamental legal question: are existing laws sufficient to deal with previously uncharted territory like this? This seemingly small case could soon put the U.S. legal framework to the test and to complete the “pioneer case” picture, it will be interesting to see if and how the court will get access to the Chevy’s sensor data.
Show us your data, Tesla
Speaking of data, another fundamental legal discussion surrounds liability: who pays if driverless crash? This is closely connected to the question of who caused an accident – man or machine?
As if on cue, a second accident in California made headlines last week involving Tesla’s Autopilot.
According to the BBC, the Model S “ploughed into the rear” of a parked Culver City fire engine, supposedly at a speed of 65 miles per hour (105 km/h). Luckily, no one was hurt. The car owner claimed the car was in Autopilot mode when the accident occurred.
Tesla so far hasn’t confirmed or disputed this – although Tesla is able to analyze data gathered by its vehicles to determine the cause of crashes. But just like other car companies, it is protecting this data like its own property. Insurance companies like Allianz have long criticized this “data monopoly”.
Now Allianz has come up with an interesting suggestion: an independent trustee should control and give access to the customers’ data. In case of an accident, this could help clarify the question of liability. It is an idea worth pursuing – an unbiased authority that could mediate between the interests of consumers, carmakers, insurers and law enforcement.
As for the latest incident, it should once again be mentioned that Autopilot in Tesla’s reading doesn’t mean that the car is self-driving – it is a level 2 automation driver assistance feature.
Should the statement of the driver in Culver City hold true, it would once again prove the fact that the feature's name is misleading and confuse customers.
Money, money, money: the top funded start-ups in 2017
It is not exactly an investigative revelation that investments in driverless car companies have reached lofty heights. Still, to look at the numbers every now and then can be useful for some insights.
According to Nanalyze, Shanghai based company NIO (focusing on fast EV’s with automated driving functionalities for the Chinese market) topped the list with 2.1 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of funding in 2017. Following in second place with 1 billion U.S. dollars was Pittsburgh-based artificial intelligence start-up Argo.ai, which was subsequently acquired by Ford.
Of the top 10, five companies originate in the United States, while four are from China and one is from Israel. If you are missing some European representation, that makes two of us. While past studies have shown countries like Germany or Sweden to be in a more competitive position than China, it will be interesting to watch how this unequal flow of money could potentially have an impact on their speed of innovation.
So long, drive safely (until cars are driverless),
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