Category Archives: Forward Collision Warning

Getting the High Five from NCAP

Just got back from the Automotive Testing Expo in Stuttgart, where we had a pretty busy three days. As I expected, our increasing focus on ADAS probably took up 50% or more of the conversations we had on the stand. It’s got me thinking about just how the manufacturers market their new models these days.

It wasn’t too long ago that just about every advert you saw for a new car – TV or print – concentrated on speed and handling. Excitement. Sportiness. But that’s all changed, partially through legislation and political correctness, but also because the sheer volume of regulations – each generating a new acronym – that must be adhered to when developing a new car. Given that we sell equipment for developing the systems that keep people alive, either by accident avoidance or crash protection, we need to be ahead of the curve. Or at least on it.

Stuttgart was full of the current buzz acronym: AEB. Autonomous Emergency Braking. It’s not all that new in terms of concept or even practical application, but the reason so many test engineers mentioned it to me is because of the forthcoming NCAP star rating itinerary. For 2014 there’s going to be a new generation of cars being launched, all with AEB, because Euro NCAP won’t hand out five stars unless they have it. Next year AEB is only necessary for collision mitigation, but for 2016 it will also be for pedestrian protection.

The full NCAP ratings report can be found here.

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Not Your Normal Truckstop

I’ve been in Sweden, training some Volvo Truck development engineers. They use our ADAS testing packages to develop collision mitigation systems, and they showed me some recent footage of their new FH truck, fitted with not only a collision warning system but an emergency brake.

It’s absolutely superb. Watch the video to see what I mean – the truck, on approaching the slow moving car, first warns the driver who doesn’t respond. It then takes things into its own hands and brakes independently. It looks like a truly remarkable driver aid, not to mention a fairly dramatic moment.

The engineers that I met are justifiably proud of what they’ve developed, and rightly so. An advanced driver assistance system with this level of precision is something to be proud of.

But I think the best thing about this footage is something I was told just as we wrapped up the training course: the car in the video, the one that appears to be imminently smashed into by a large Volvo truck, is the test engineer’s personal vehicle. They clearly have an immense confidence in their product. Nice to know that VBOX played a large part in this.

Do I trust a robot to drive me?

These days more and more of my time is being spent working with new solutions for testing ADAS systems.  Last week I was on an airfield down in the West Country with Anthony Best Dynamics (ABD) making sure that our VBOX equipment works with their latest throttle and brake robots.

I think that I am a good driver but even I can’t compete with the accuracy and repeatability that these robots offer.  Using robotic throttle and brake control we were able to accelerate up to 45mph and the target car duly matched our acceleration – with a separation of 30m. Then the robot decelerated the target car at exactly 0.3g. I’ve tried this test manually and we required at least 1km. With the robot in control we had the test completed in 580m. Most impressive.