Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems combine adaptive cruise control with full automatic braking to avoid frontal collisions, even without driver input. Still in their infancy, such systems are currently available on just 20 percent of the cars sold in Europe.
New regulations may be coming to change that, and by November of 2013 all new commercial vehicles sold in Europe must be equipped with the system. What’s good for trucks is also good for passenger cars, but EU regulators are afraid of mandating the (potentially expensive) collision-avoidance systems for passenger cars just yet.
Instead, as Autoweek reports, the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP, the agency that conducts safety testing and rates new cars in Europe) will begin factoring in the inclusion of AEB systems in 2014. In other words, if you want a five-star safety rating, you’d best include AEB as an option in 2014.
Such back-door mandates are nothing new to the United States. Prior to the federal requirement that new cars include electronic stability control systems, the IIHS required them for its “Top Safety Pick” award. As manufacturers have learned, safety is a big selling point, particularly with family vehicles.
According to Popular Science, one European study showed that AEB systems, when universally implemented, could reduce traffic accidents by as much as 25-percent. That’s assuming all the bugs are worked out of the system, as some AEB systems currently have a hard time distinguishing between stopped cars and steel bridge structures.
If the Euro NCAP pushes forward with its plans, expect the IIHS (and, perhaps, the NHTSA) to follow suit. Like technologies such as airbags and anit-lock-brakes, AEB systems will likely trickle down from luxury cars to affordable family cars in the not-too-distant future.