Full Auto Brake with Pedestrian Detection - 2011 Volvo S60Enlarge Photo
As we move closer and closer to a future that involves fully autonomous cars, it’s becoming clear that systems developed for the self driving cars of tomorrow are making cars of today safer.
Recent studies prove that technologies like collision detection, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking help to reduce accidents. If an accident is unavoidable, modern in-car safety features like advanced airbags, smart seat belts and high-strength steel construction help to minimize injuries.
That makes cars safer for drivers and passengers, but doesn’t do anything to improve the survivability of car and pedestrian impacts. While Volvo has implemented an injury-reducing pedestrian airbag system for new models, the best type of crash is still one that never happens.
That makes pedestrian (and animal) detection the next big wave in auto safety, especially since upcoming Euro NCAP standards will rate cars on their ability to prevent pedestrian injuries. As Automotive News Europe (subscription required) reports, Continental has developed a camera-based pedestrian detection system that it hopes will see widespread adoption.
Unlike other pedestrian-detection systems, Continental’s stereo-camera based version can be deployed without links to other technologies, or it can be tied into radar based detection systems for improved range. One appeal of Continental’s system is its potentially low cost: camera sensors have dropped in price, making the system more cost-effective to implement.
Volvo’s pedestrian and animal detection system uses cameras, radar and infrared sensors to detect living objects in the car’s path of travel. GM, however, is taking a more innovative (and, probably, cost-effective) approach by detecting the wireless signal from a pedestrian’s smartphone. That may help with joggers and bicyclists, but deer don’t carry iPhones.
This much is clear: within the next decade, we’ll see the widespread implementation of technology, across all automotive price points, that was the stuff of science fiction just a few years back. Advancement comes at a price, however, so we can expect cars to get more complex and more expensive as safety technology becomes mainstream.