In recent years, amid heightened concerns surrounding vehicle safety, manufacturers have turned to sophisticated technologies, such as automatic emergency braking, to reduce or mitigate the severity of crashes. And while automatic emergency braking, or AEB, appears to be making a positive impact, a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals that these systems are still far from perfect — particularly when it comes to detecting pedestrians at night.
In the nighttime test for pedestrian AEB, or P-AEB, more than half of the first 23 midsize cars, midsize SUVs and small pickups tested earned a basic score or no credit, while only four earned a superior rating.
Jessica Cicchino, vice president of research at IIHS, described it as "the first real-world study of pedestrian AEB to cover a broad range of manufacturers." The organization found that while vehicles equipped with P-AEB systems reduced the odds of a crash by more than 30 percent in well-lit conditions, they offered no identifiable reduction of risk to pedestrians at nighttime in areas without streetlights.
As IIHS was careful to point out, this is a significant problem when you consider that around 75 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes happen at night. And perhaps needless to say, it is a problem that manufacturers and engineers in the autonomous mobility industry can't afford to leave unaddressed.
So where are these systems coming up short? To answer this question, we first need to take a closer look at the different technologies being used in existing P-AEB systems.