Of all the autonomous car features headed our way, automatic emergency braking, or AEB, is perhaps the one that has safety regulators -- and consumers -- most excited.
AEB consists of sensors and software that warn drivers of approaching obstacles and apply the brakes automatically, if necessary -- for example, if a motorist is distracted, drunk, or nods off at the wheel. AEB promises to reduce serious rear-end collisions and minor fender-benders alike, cutting fatality rates and traffic jams, too. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety even created a whole new rating for cars with AEB technology: Top Safety Pick+. (The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may do so, too.)
On Friday, the IIHS, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and NHTSA announced that ten automakers have committed themselves to making AEB standard on all new cars. The car companies included Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.
That's great news for safety fans. IIHS' review of insurance claims shows that AEB systems can cut injuries -- or at least injury claims -- by up to 35 percent. And if all ten automakers follow through on their pledges, it'll have a huge effect on safety, since they currently control about 57 percent of the U.S. auto market.
As IIHS President Adrian Lund noted, "The evidence is mounting that AEB is making a difference. Most crashes involve driver error. This technology can compensate for the mistakes every driver makes because the systems are always on alert, monitoring the road ahead and never getting tired or distracted."
Less great news? The timeline for rolling out AEB at these ten companies hasn't been set. The IIHS only says that "Moving forward, IIHS and NHTSA will set specific performance criteria for manufacturers to meet their commitment and will determine how soon consumers can expect to see AEB technology as standard equipment."
Also uncertain is how this technology will affect (read: increase) the price of the average new car. However, based on recent reports, a significant number of drivers see the cost of AEB and other safety systems as small prices to pay for safety.
We're sure that some folks aren't exactly happy about this development. Unfortunately for them, it seems like the genie is waaaay out of the bottle on this one, so it's probably a done deal.
How do you feel about this news? Excited? Angry? Meh? Share your thoughts in the comments below.