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AAA Study Finds Pedestrian Detection Systems Perform Inconsistently

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【Summary】That’s during the day. During the night, the AAA found that the systems were almost useless.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Oct 22, 2019 5:00 AM PT
AAA Study Finds Pedestrian Detection Systems Perform Inconsistently

There are numerous driver-assist systems on the market these days. Automakers are packing them into suites that are either offered as standard equipment or as optional bundles. Honda, for instance, has a Honda Sensing suite of features that includes automatic emergency braking, lane departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and traffic sign recognition. 

For the most part, consumers are expecting these systems to work well and keep them safe. But as a study from the American Automobile Association (AAA) found, automatic emergency braking doesn't work too well.

New Tech Is Inconsistent
 
In the AAA's study, which tested automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection on four modern sedans, the organization found that the technology performed "inconsistently" during the day. At night, the AAA found that the systems were "completely ineffective."
 
The AAA tested the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Tesla Model 3, and Toyota Camry. Four tests were conducted, including a pedestrian crossing in front of a car traveling between 20 mph and 30 mph during the day and at 25 mph at night; a child darting from between two parked cars in front of a car traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph; a vehicle turning onto an adjacent road with a pedestrian crossing at the same time; and pedestrians standing along the side of the road with their backs to traffic, which a vehicle approaching at 20 mph and 30 mph.
 
In the tests, the systems performed best in the experiment that involved a pedestrian crossing in front of a vehicle that was traveling at a speed of 20 mph during the day. In that scenario, the study found that the systems avoided a collision 40 percent of the time. At 30 mph, the systems failed to avoid a collision with the pedestrian the majority of the time. In all of the other experiments, an accident occurred the majority of the time.

Driver-Assist Features Need More Work
 
In spite of the results, the AAA believes that the technology should continue to be developed. "For the safety of everyone on the road, AAA supports the continued development of pedestrian detection systems, specifically when it comes to improving functionality at night and in circumstances where drivers are more likely to encounter pedestrians," said the association in its study.
 
What studies, like the AAA's latest one, reveals is that modern driver-assist systems are best suited for alerting drivers and assisting in lessening the chance of an accident. And based on the study, the AAA recommends that drivers always be aware of their surroundings, read the owner's manual to get a better understanding of how modern safety systems work, and use extra caution when driving at night.
 
Still, automatic emergency braking is something automakers should continue to work on. "The rise in pedestrian deaths is a major concern and automakers are on the right path with the intent of these systems," said Greg Brannon, AAA's director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. "But, our research found that current systems are far from perfect and still require an engaged driver behind the wheel."
 
Automatic emergency braking isn't the only system studies have found fault with recently. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist systems had some serious flaws.

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