Technology Guide: What is an Automatic brake System?
Technology Guide: What is an Automatic brake System?

The Basics

An important component of safety technology for automobiles is an automatic brake system. It is an advanced system designed to prevent collisions and reduce speed before collisions with pedestrians or any other vehicle.

These systems combine sensors such as radar and video to scan for objects in front of the vehicle. If an object is detected, they use brake control to stop collisions.

The safety feature of automatic brakes is one of many in a car's safety systems. These are often combined with other technology like pre-collision and adaptive cruise controls.

Explaining the Operation

While each car manufacturer uses its own technology in automatic braking, they all use the same starting point: sensory input. Depending on the manufacturer of the vehicle, the system may use radar, laser or video data sensors to detect objects in front. The system, for example, monitors traffic ahead of the vehicle and estimates the chance of a crash.

If the object is detected, it continues to take direct measurements of sensor data. It calculates the distance between the moving vehicle & the object in front, and their relative speed. If the system finds that there is a significant difference in speed, the system will activate the brakes. It can detect if the vehicle's speed differs from the object it is following, and activate the brakes to stop the collision.

An automatic braking device can also be connected with a vehicle’s GPS system. It uses its database of traffic information and stops signs to activate the brakes at the right time, if the driver fails.

Different Systems

As stated previously, every manufacturer uses its own automated braking system technology, with a different sensory input and set-up.

Volvo's City Safety System is a combination of a lidar, or laser radar, placed in the bumper and an embedded camera in the windshield. While Lidar is able to see for several hundred yards in front and back of the car it can't tell what it's seeing. This is where the camera comes in. It identifies the object and determines if it is a problem.

Honda's City BrakeActive system uses both radar sensors as well as cameras. It then uses the data to identify any potential collisions and alert the driver using a series audio and visual warnings. The system can also automatically apply brakes if the driver ignores warnings. Honda's sensor can detect pedestrians to slow the vehicle or even stop it altogether if they are struck.

Role in other car safety features

According to IIHS, crash-avoidance features could reduce or even prevent the impact of approximately 1.9million crashes every year. They can even prevent three of the fatalities.

The role of automatic braking systems is crucial in preventing such crashes. Precrash and collision avoidance system, as well as adaptive cruise control are their primary uses.

Collision avoidance system warns the driver of a potential collision. This is usually done by a combination sound and visual warning on the windshield or instrument panel.

If the driver doesn't react to the warnings but decides not to apply brakes, and the system determines the impact is imminent and activates the brakes automatically,

An automatic brake system can also work with adaptive cruise controller systems. These systems monitor the speed of a vehicle in front and attempt to match it. These systems can also lower speed by activating the brakes, downshifting, or cutting the throttle.

Benefits of an automatic brake system

Cars equipped with automatic braking systems don't behave any different than other drivers. It is there, but not to the driver's discomfort. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be activated by the driver.

Only about 40% respond correctly and hit the brakes when they are involved in an accident. It is important that you remember that the driver can still push the brake or steer around. We want to give the driver the final decision. Only if the driver doesn’t react at all, then the final action will be autonomous braking. (Klaus Kompass vice president of vehicle safety at BMW).

Automatic braking systems can save lives by reducing property damage and inattentiveness in cases of accidents.

It is a very useful safety net that most drivers will not use. But it's a comfort for all drivers.

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