(Another installment in our continuing series looking at how the cars of yesterday are being transformed into the driverless cars of tomorrow via the technology of today.)
Clearly, if you have this much stuff lit up on your dashboard, something is about to happen, and it’s probably not going to be good. Today’s post will focus on three technologies: forward collision warning, braking assist, and automatic emergency braking. As with all the posts in this series, we will explore how these technologies will help you brake your car today so that your car will brake itself tomorrow without you having to break a sweat.
How These Three Work Together
First, a quick primer on the functions of each of these technologies.
- Forward Collision Warning – Forward Collision Warning alerts the driver of a potential collision with a stationary or slower moving object ahead.
- Braking Assist – Braking Assist applies more force to the brakes after the driver steps on them. The reduction in stopping distance can help reduce the possibility or severity of a rear-end collision.
- Automatic Emergency Braking – As the name implies, Automatic Emergency Braking becomes active to reduce or eliminate the effects of a rear-end collision but does not rely on any input from the driver.
Automobiles with these technologies installed also have onboard cameras and radar to detect objects in the path ahead. If a collision is imminent, the forward collision warning will be activated. The driver will receive a warning in the form of flashing lights, vibration, sound or a combination of the three. If the driver applies the brakes, braking assist will help the car stop more quickly. If the driver fails to activate the brakes, the car will be slowed or even stopped automatically by the automatic emergency braking system.
And Now for a Little Math
I’ll bet you’re excited now, huh?
Even attentive drivers are only human when it comes to reaction time. Dividing the speed at which a car is traveling by the amount of time the car travels at that rate, you can determine the distance the car will travel in that amount of time. Clear as mud, right? In a nutshell, this means that a car traveling at 30 mph can also be said to be traveling at a rate of 44 feet per second. It is easy to see how many low-speed, rear-end collisions could be avoided with an extra 44 feet to stop. This is why these automated braking systems can be so useful. In fact, they are so effective that carmakers are considering making them standard equipment just like seatbelts and airbags. The government is also considering changes to automotive safety standards. In the future, it may be impossible for a car to receive a five-star safety rating unless equipped with these systems.
But What If My Car Doesn’t Have Them?
Whether you have these technologies installed on your car or not, the best way to avoid a rear-end collision is by maintaining an appropriate following distance between yourself and the cars ahead. Many moons ago I was taught in driver’s ed that a proper following distance was 10 feet for every 10 miles-per-hour I was traveling. I was never sure if, at 70 mph, I should be trying to guesstimate the length of seven Smartcars or seven Lincolns. An easier way to estimate that proper distance is by use of the “three-second rule” described in the video below.