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Technology can prevent accidental and intentional collisions at speeds up to almost 40 mph (60 kph)

In recent years automakers -- in a quest to score top government crash test safety ratings and win buyers -- have incorporated automatic braking systems that attempt to stop or at least slow the vehicle if it appears the driver is not slowing down in time.  These efforts have been particularly vital in helping to ensure that overall traffic fatalities continue to decline; an impressive feat considering the lighter, more fuel-efficient cars tend to be inherently more prone to deadly crashes.
 
I. Honda Aims to be the First to Deploy Pedestrian Auto-Braking Protection
 
But another common form of fatality involves someone who isn't even driving -- a pedestrian being hit by a car.  This accident type is more common than you might think:
  • U.S.      :: Injuries: 69,000    Deaths: 4,432   [2011 data]
  • Canada :: Injuries: 13,475    Deaths:   334    [2001 data]
  • EU-24   :: Injuries: 40,000    Deaths: 6,004    [2010 data 1, 2]
  • Japan   :: Injuries: 69,069 [2009 data]     Deaths: 1,686 [2011 data]
So in just Japan, the U.S., Canada, and the 24 core nations of the European Union, pedestrian accidents injured over 190,000 people seriously enough they had to go to the hospital and over 12,450 died.  As with most crashes the issue isn't just the driver; sometimes the pedestrian is to blame as well.  Drunkenness, disability, senescence, and distraction can all play a role in a pedestrian making a poor decision and getting hit.

pedestrian safety
As passenger and driver safety have been improved with technology, pedestrian accidents have become a more pressing concern. [Image Source: BMW]

Given the scope of the problem, the EU and Japan have added pedestrian safety as a category to their national crash test safety ratings.  Some have suggested that automakers add more sophisticated auto-braking technology to cars, but doing so is very difficult as pedestrians are much smaller than vehicles.
 
But Honda Motor Comp., Ltd. (TYO:7267) has taken on this difficult challenge and now it has what it feels is a finished solution, ready for the real world.
 
The system consists of a millimeter wave radar scanner and a high-resolution camera, which work together to spot passengers and apply the breaks if necessary, and if it is safe to do so.  What's particularly impressive about Honda's claims is it says it can bring a vehicle hurdling towards a pedestrian to a dead stop in most cases at speeds up to 60 kph (~37.3 mph).
 
The system will initially be priced as an add-on, according to a report in the newspaper Nikkei.  The technology will be offered with this year's 2015 Honda Legend, a high-end consumer sedan that is rebranded as the Acura RLX in the U.S.


Honda will look to field the tech in the 2015 Honda Legend (2014 Acura RLX shown).

The addition will be a boon for Honda in markets that include pedestrian safety, as its smaller cars (compacts, subcompacts) have otherwise been performing quite poorly in crash test ratings.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ranked Honda's fuel-efficient 2014 Honda Fit subcompact last (in eleventh place) in crash testing ratings among popular U.S. subcompact models. (To be fair, this was just the worst in a sea of flunking scores -- every subcompact flunked besides the General Motors Comp. (GM) 2014 Chevy Spark.)
 
Honda is pushing to get better results in 2015, but it certainly wouldn't mind an extra boost from the pedestrian safety features, which could easily raise its European scores by a point or two, allowing to speed into the middle of the pack safety-wise.
 
The rest of the fleet should receive the upgrade in the 2016 model year (next year) or 2017 model year.
 
II. Toyota and Subaru Pile on, View Braking Tech as Stepping Stone to Self-Driving Cars
 
Toyota Motor Corp. (TYO:7203) -- which last year crept ahead of General Motors Comp. (GM) to become the world's biggest automaker (with 9.98 million vehicles sold in 2013) -- is racing to catch up with its domestic rival.  The Toyota system is more simplistic, based on the current braking technology found in the Lexus LS.  That technology uses 77 GHz long-range radar (LRR) sensors, similar to Honda's.  It is unclear whether Toyota plans to supplement the current system with a high-resolution camera for color image processing, as well.
 
Toyota plans to roll out the technology in the 2016 model year (next year), putting its launch roughly in line with Honda's volume ramp-up.  The current system can only slow the vehicle from speeds of 40 kph (24.9 mph).  But Toyota plans to aggressively develop the system to be able to stop from speeds of 70 kph (43.5 mph) by 2020.


Toyota Camry
 
Not to be left out Subaru Motors' parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (TYO:7270) is installing braking tech of its own in the 2015 Levorg sports wagon.  That tech will be just slightly less sophisticated than Honda's, capable of stopping from a speed of 50 kph (31.1 mph).
 
Honda has not announced the price of its new pedestrian-geared auto-braking option, but Fuji Heavy Industries and Toyota have both pegged ¥100,000 (~$967 USD) as the going rate.  The options will likely retail for around $1,000 USD in the U.S.
 
It should be interesting to see how Honda's color-camera-assisted technology stacks up to radar only implementations.  Blaise Agüera y Arcas' PhotoSynth program, which he made for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), confirmed what many long suspect might be possible: that color information can be used to guess with reasonable accuracy a 3D model of a panorama.  Cars could potentially use similar technology to greatly extend their sensor range, supplement shorter-range radar, with long-range color "vision".  It's likely that Mr. Agüera y Arcas will likely look to do precisely that at his new post as a research engineer at Google Inc. (GOOG).

Photosynth
Photosynth uses color-based 3D model generation tech.  Similar algorithms could be incorporated into a car's image processor for collision avoidance.

Google is looking to leverage such technologies to create self-driving cars, an international race that it enjoys a slight lead in.  Both Honda and Toyota believe that the self-driving car is coming soon to the market as well according to Nikkei.  It claims they will look to deploy vehicles with full "autopilot" by 2020.

Before they can get there, however, there needs be a substantial shift in user trust regarding the vehicle driving itself.  Pedestrian collision avoidance is a good place to start as even slowing the vehicle can drastically improve survival rates.

pedestrian fatality
[Image Source: TBD]

If drivers come to feel that they can trust the car as a smart copilot, capable of avoiding collision if they mess up, perhaps they will one day come to trust it enough to sometimes allow it to take full control of driving as well.

Source: Nikkei



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Non-sequitur
By Flunk on 1/24/2014 9:44:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
an impressive feat considering the lighter, more fuel-efficient cars tend to be inherently more prone to deadly crashes.


This statement doesn't make any sense whatsoever. lighter cars are more prone to injuries to people INSIDE the car in an accident. Their shorter stopping distance and decreased mass are BENEFICIAL to pedestrian safety in crashes.

Sometimes it just seems like you guys try to tie things together that don't make any sense at all to increase internal page links.




RE: Non-sequitur
By retrospooty on 1/24/2014 10:18:16 AM , Rating: 2
I liked the title itself that they are trying to "Make it Harder to Hit Pedestrians"


RE: Non-sequitur
By nikon133 on 1/25/2014 8:05:43 AM , Rating: 2
Spoiling all the fun, darn Japs.


RE: Non-sequitur
By Samus on 1/26/2014 2:13:58 AM , Rating: 2
Mazda already has this tech. So I don't see how Honda is going to be first to market something that Mazda has had in the 6 and CX-5 for two years...

The only catch is Mazda's "city brake" works at speeds under 18mph. Apparently Honda wants to make it work at up to 40mph.


RE: Non-sequitur
By marvdmartian on 1/27/2014 9:36:49 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, what's the fun of that? Geez, taking all the fun out of driving!


RE: Non-sequitur
By Camikazi on 1/27/2014 4:29:48 PM , Rating: 3
How am I supposed to rack up points without my mass pedestrian mowing on weekends?


RE: Non-sequitur
By JasonMick (blog) on 1/24/2014 11:09:13 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
This statement doesn't make any sense whatsoever. lighter cars are more prone to injuries to people INSIDE the car in an accident. Their shorter stopping distance and decreased mass are BENEFICIAL to pedestrian safety in crashes.
Correct, but in the opening paragraph, if you read carefully you would have seen I was referring to people INSIDE the car.

You raise a good point about pedestrian safety (though) which I don't mention. Small cars are safer to pedestrian in terms of the pure mechanics of mid-speed collision. However, what your comment ignores is that most small/light cars tend to be quieter both due to less vibrating mass and to partner technologies like electric motors, which adds up to make it harder to hear them coming. Hence I'd suspect you'd get less fatalities per accident, but an increase in the total number of accidents.

Again, you raise a good point, but your comment ignores the latter problem, thus assuming a simplistic view that "light cars are good for pedestrians".

The point is that safety technology has allowed lighter cars to actually have lower passenger and driver fatalities, an impressive feat as I say.
quote:
Sometimes it just seems like you guys try to tie things together that don't make any sense at all to increase internal page links.
I only link to things I feel are relevant. In an article about car safety it makes sense to link to other articles discussing trends in car safety, yes?

Or would you rather this was a Pastebin dump with no pictures, no links, just a massive wall of plaintext staring at you?


RE: Non-sequitur
By CaedenV on 1/24/2014 11:21:41 AM , Rating: 2
While there would probably be more injuries, it would likely be less severe injuries as well. When I was a kid I was a cart attendant for a while and I can tell you that people in larger vehicles are less likely to see you, and when they hit you they do a much better job at it than smaller cars.


RE: Non-sequitur
By FITCamaro on 1/24/2014 2:54:28 PM , Rating: 1
A vehicle hitting a pedestrian is usually the fault of the pedestrian. I don't care what the law says in your area, you yield to the 2800+ lb metal object coming at you.

If a kid runs in front of your car because they weren't looking, how is that your fault? You can try to be aware of your surroundings but there's only so much you can do. Sure incidents where the person is using their phone while driving are different. But I'd bet a lot of these accidents as a result of the pedestrian being on their phone and not paying attention to where they're going.


RE: Non-sequitur
By Camikazi on 1/27/2014 4:32:30 PM , Rating: 2
Most of the time that is what I see, or people who just don't seem to understand that a metal monster going towards them takes time to stop and can kill you. I had one kid who crossed the street when the light was green forcing me to slam on the brakes and then just stopped in front of my car giving me the evil eye cause apparently him crossing when he is not supposed to is my fault.


RE: Non-sequitur
By UNHchabo on 1/27/2014 7:47:25 PM , Rating: 2
One time I was in college, and driving down the main road on-campus in the middle of winter. I was doing less than 25, and a woman stepped into the crosswalk about 40 feet in front of me. I hit the brakes, but had little traction on the icy road, so the anti-lock system was working hard to try to get some grip. The woman just stood in front of my car with a shocked look on her face, cause she could probably hear that I was having trouble slowing down. In the end I think I came to a stop with my bumper about 5-7 feet away from her. The incident scared her from the looks of it, and scared me too. Even if it had been ruled her fault, I never want to hit anybody.


RE: Non-sequitur
By Jeffk464 on 1/27/2014 10:37:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I can't tell you how many times I got the deer in the headlights from women hikers while I was mountain biking.


RE: Non-sequitur
By Jeffk464 on 1/27/2014 10:35:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
one kid


Yeah, kids have about as much road sense as puppies. You as a driver should be paying attention to that.


RE: Non-sequitur
By CaedenV on 1/24/2014 11:18:51 AM , Rating: 2
I am similarly curious about the numbers posted about pedestrian injuries and deaths caused by motorists. They seem far too high to be on a per year basis... so how far back do the numbers go? 10 years? 100? Is this really that big of a problem?

And lighter cars being unsafe is not because they are unsafe in and of themselves. The issue again lies with the larger vehicles on the road who are generally driven by worse drivers. Get in a lot of accidents and need a safer car? Then get a larger, bulkier vehicle that is even more difficult to control! That will solve all of the problems!

It is like having a gangster in a therapy session:
gangster: I don't know why, but I just can't stop killing people!
psychologist: It probably has something to do with your perceived failings as a man, and the need to prove yourself
gangster: Yes, that could be it... but what do I DO about it?
psychologist: Studies show that owning a bigger gun helps boost confidence in men... so maybe you should do that!


RE: Non-sequitur
By Solandri on 1/24/2014 2:10:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I am similarly curious about the numbers posted about pedestrian injuries and deaths caused by motorists. They seem far too high to be on a per year basis... so how far back do the numbers go? 10 years? 100? Is this really that big of a problem?

He provides source links for the numbers. They seem legit.

It's interesting that the ratios are so different:

US - 69000 injuries, 4432 deaths, 15.6 injuries per death
Canada - 13475 injuries, 334 deaths, 40.3 injuries per death
EU - 40000 injuries, 6004 deaths, 6.7 injuries per death
Japan - 69069 injuries, 1686 deaths, 41.0 injuries per death

A higher ratio of injuries to death means more survivable collisions with pedestrians. I can totally believe the Canada ratio - they drive like grandmothers up there. And I'm inclined to believe the Japanese may drive similarly to Canadians. I would've pegged the U.S. as having the craziest drivers, but apparently the EU drivers are much worse.

quote:
And lighter cars being unsafe is not because they are unsafe in and of themselves. The issue again lies with the larger vehicles on the road who are generally driven by worse drivers. Get in a lot of accidents and need a safer car? Then get a larger, bulkier vehicle that is even more difficult to control! That will solve all of the problems!

This is typical cherry picking - only look at reasons which favor your predetermined conclusion. Yes what you say is true. But lighter vehicles are also less safe in collisions with static objects.
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/01/mo...

There's a certain point of shedding vehicle weight beyond which you're cutting out meat and bone, instead of fat. The really small vehicles have passed that point, so it's unfair to characterize it as if there is no safety justification for owning a larger vehicle.


RE: Non-sequitur
By Reclaimer77 on 1/24/2014 3:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I would've pegged the U.S. as having the craziest drivers, but apparently the EU drivers are much worse.


Nah. Have you been to Europe? It's no wonder they have more pedestrian incidents, really I'm not surprised seeing those numbers.

Sure it's the responsibility of the drivers to be aware. But the design of most European roads and cities basically forces pedestrians into harms way.


RE: Non-sequitur
By Reclaimer77 on 1/24/2014 1:44:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This statement doesn't make any sense whatsoever. lighter cars are more prone to injuries to people INSIDE the car in an accident. Their shorter stopping distance and decreased mass are BENEFICIAL to pedestrian safety in crashes.


What else matters?

People don't choose a vehicle for PEDESTRIAN safety. The people inside the car is who really matters. You have a much higher chance of being in an accident with another vehicle than you do of running over a pedestrian.

quote:
Sometimes it just seems like you guys try to tie things together that don't make any sense at all to increase internal page links.


And sometimes people post before they comprehend what they just read.


By happyfirst on 1/24/2014 9:32:51 AM , Rating: 2
Not even any mention of Volvo in this article regarding pedestrian safety. Volvo even now has external air bags to protect pedestrians.

Where did the comment that Honda aims to be first at this come from?

Let's give credit where credit is due.




By NellyFromMA on 1/24/2014 11:16:03 AM , Rating: 2
Because no one cares about Volvo. You can't even ball hard or throw D's on it respectfully in them. And we all know, those things are way more important than safety.


By happyfirst on 1/24/2014 12:10:04 PM , Rating: 3
Volvo's popularity is not the point of this article. People not caring about safety when they buy cars is also not the point of this article.

This article makes it seems like nobody currently offers pedestrian safety technology and that one of the mentioned brands is racing to be first.

Like I said before, let's at least give credit where credit is due and Volvo was the first to release this technology.

I find it interesting that Jason is more interested in addressing some comment about vehicle weight versus safety then in addressing where his "Honda aims to be first" comment came from.


By ven1ger on 1/24/2014 2:10:22 PM , Rating: 2
Hadn't even known about this sort of features on the Volvo, sorry, just never considered owning a Volvo. But just googled it and it looks like an interesting idea. Was trying to find out how effective it was in preventing/minimizing pedestrian accidents.

I'd like to see more of these features incorporated into cars as being responsible for a pedestrian accident is something no responsible driver wants to get into.


Points
By ipay on 1/24/2014 10:42:53 AM , Rating: 3
So does this mean the points system will need to be adjusted due to the added difficulty?




RE: Points
By ClownPuncher on 1/24/2014 1:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
I hope so. This is a serious handicap.


RE: Points
By sorry dog on 1/26/2014 9:54:36 AM , Rating: 3
speaking of points...

does this mean that when I try to run over the neighbor's cat my car is going to brake for it?


Auto-braking
By Captain Orgazmo on 1/25/2014 12:01:48 PM , Rating: 2
I think auto-braking to prevent collisions with pedestrians is a good idea, but I'm worried about manufacturers implementing auto-braking to avoid rear-enders.

There was a Mitsubishi commercial I saw showing a woman driving an SUV (with kid in back), rubbernecking an accident scene, and not observing slowing traffic in front. The SUV brakes at the last moment, avoiding impact with the vehicle in front. What the commercial does not depict is a conventional car following the stupid SUV driver, who can't see around or through the larger SUV, colliding with and starting a chain-reaction collision due to the unexpected hard braking of SUV. This happens without auto-braking systems all the time, but the ad seemed to be saying it was now OK to drive like a moron.

As it is, people pay far too little attention to driving. Any technology that accommodates decreased driver attention and increased complacency behind the wheel should be discouraged.




RE: Auto-braking
By lyeoh on 1/25/2014 1:27:53 PM , Rating: 4
Uh if you hit a car (especially an SUV) in front of you just because it "auto brakes" you're a bad driver and driving too close.

And if you can't see past the SUV in front, that's even more reason you shouldn't be driving so close to it.

Most SUVs can't generally slow down that fast even at max braking. If you can't even brake in time for that what happens if the SUV actually hits something that makes it stop really fast? Or does a last second swerve out of the way of a wreck in the middle of the road?

Seems to me in your example the moron driver behind should also be driving a car with "auto brakes".


RE: Auto-braking
By Captain Orgazmo on 1/26/2014 10:29:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Seems to me in your example the moron driver behind should also be driving a car with "auto brakes".


That's the problem. As I said, already this happens constantly (not always resulting in collision) and is the main cause of traffic congestion. I personally follow at a distance (2-3 second rule) and watch as the traffic in front does the ole gas/brake/gas/brake thing. People are terrible drivers already, and auto-braking could be a double-edged sword.


Are those distances to stop average?
By cruisin3style on 1/24/2014 3:01:54 PM , Rating: 1
I know my car is a "sporty" car but it is supposed to stop from 60 to 0 in less than 120 feet

can the average really be 145 ft from 40 to 0?

fuckin SUVs..




RE: Are those distances to stop average?
By ClownPuncher on 1/24/2014 3:38:45 PM , Rating: 2
Why can't my 4 kids, groceries and wood from the hardware store fit in my Porsche? Seems absurd that the interior isn't like a clown car or a Bag of Holding.


By cruisin3style on 1/26/2014 12:46:09 AM , Rating: 2
Porsche or 4 door Mazda, either way


Just a matter of time
By FITCamaro on 1/24/14, Rating: 0
RE: Just a matter of time
By Rukkian on 1/24/2014 4:11:39 PM , Rating: 3
What exactly does this have to do with this article? There are plenty of articles about government mandates, but you go off on a rant about the government forcing things in a article about car companies doing things long before the government mandates it.

Also you go on to say:
quote:
I'm not against safety systems. I'm against forcing manufacturers to make a product the way the government says it has to be made.

and then:
quote:
No one is saying that you can't have laws that say you can't build a product if it is inherently unsafe and they know people will be injured by it. It's entirely different to have laws that say you can't build a product that don't have features that some bureaucrat thinks should be included.


Who do you think makes the laws determining what is safe and what is not? The Bureaucrats are the ones making the laws. You say than can make laws stopping something that is unsafe, but then say they cant be the judge of what is unsafe.

Things change, at one point seat belts were not required for anybody, and even little kids (including babies) could just sit in their parents lap, but nowadays, I think most would agree that would be unsafe. At some point, some "bureaucrat" had to decide that babies should be in a car seat.

I personally am not sure these should be mandatory, as I am under the impression that most car-pedestrian accidents fall on the pedestrian, except where the driver ignores street lights, and run through a pedestrian x-ing when the pedestrian had the right of way. I see way too many people jaywalking, and many pedestrians dont bother even looking, and are too worried about their ipod.


Come on I want to
By Dr of crap on 1/24/2014 12:12:50 PM , Rating: 1
I want to hit someone and have them get stuck in the windshield as I drive home!
Its a dream of mine!

Really, 4500 deaths?? And I haven't hit anyone yet!
I really need to brush up and my ability to hit those walkers!




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