You’re driving along, a little distracted by the music playing, your infotainment system or the sunny landscapes ahead of you. All of a sudden, you spill your beverage. As you are looking down, the car ahead of you suddenly slams on the brakes. Fortunately, your car is modern and equipped with an automatic braking system that reacts for you and slows down on its own, saving you from a collision.
But how is this possible? Simply because the various active safety systems present in modern vehicles are becoming more sophisticated, and increasingly present, making them more and more autonomous.
“Automatic braking systems are increasingly present, and will be standard on almost all new vehicles starting in 2022. According to data from the NHTSA, this kind of system can prevent up to 40% of accidents. In other words, they are really effective,” says a technical advisor at Volvo Metro West.
The operation of such a system is quite simple. Each car is equipped with a sensor that can perceive cars and obstacles ahead. In most cases, these sensors are cameras that are housed either in the grill or behind the rearview mirror.
Some manufacturers prefer lasers that scan the road ahead. These devices are used to detect the movement or absence of movement in front of the car, and then respond accordingly. In other words, your vehicle can see what is happening in front and warn you if there is an oncoming obstacle or vehicle in front.
Some vehicles will emit light or audible alerts to warn the driver of an impending collision. Then, the accident prevention system tightens the seat belts of the occupants, before activating the automatic braking which will reduce your speed or immobilize your vehicle completely.
Obviously, such a system will never replace the vigilance of the driver, but it will at least compensate for the occasional distraction.