Crash avoidance technology to go mainstream?

The Queensland government is researching the benefits of forward collision avoidance technology
  • Tim Lohman (Computerworld)
  • 23 November, 2011 11:44

The Queensland government is to begin reviewing crash avoidance technology ahead of a potential push to have the technology installed in vehicles across the state.

According to documents from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, prior research into forward collision avoidance technology, or FCAT, had suggested new and emerging technologies that improved frontal crash avoidance were beneficial and worth proper evaluation.

“Forward collision avoidance systems offer great potential to reduce the severity of crashes, or possibly avoid such crashes altogether, by either warning the driver of an impending impact or by automatically applying emergency braking,” the documents read.

As a result, the department intends to begin researching and reviewing available forward collision avoidance technologies in combination with crash data to determine whether they can reduce the state’s road toll and improve road safety.

The first stage of the project will include examining the costs and benefits for technologies available for light and heavy vehicles and liaising with FCAT manufacturers. The research will also determine what safety benefits available through the use of FCAT and whether there is a positive benefit-cost ratio related to the adoption of FCAT.

The second stage of the project, assuming success in the first stage, will be to raise awareness of the benefits to the general public and other stakeholders.

“It is intended to communicate these results on a Queensland basis at first and then nationally either directly or with materials that other jurisdictions could use,” the documents read.

“[The Department of Transport and Main Roads ] will use educational messages to promote the safety technologies, providing proof of road safety benefits identified through research and testing.”

Possible educational initiatives could include partnering with industry associations such as Commercial Vehicle Industry Association of Queensland, targeted advertising at truck stops, direct marketing and encouraging manufacturers to advertise the benefits of the technology.

According to the Centre for Automotive Safety’s April ‘Analysis of crash data to estimate the benefits of emerging vehicle technology’ report(PDF), the largest potential for reducing the number of serious and fatal crashes in coming years is likely to come from forward collision detection and avoidance technologies.

“In the next five years, it is expected that the technologies will continue to develop such that there will be complete convergence in the operable range of systems, and a complete integration of the sensing and intervention technologies," the report reads. "It is from such future systems that the largest road safety gains are likely to be made.”

Crash avoidance technologies currently include emergency brake assist, low speed obstacle detection with automatic braking and adaptive cruise control with automatic braking.

Motoring academics and researchers are positive about the potential for ICT to play a major role in reducing the number of road fatalities during the next 10 years.

In September, Lauchlan McIntosh, president of the Australasian College of Road Safety and chairman of Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), said safety technology was becoming more common place and no longer restricted to luxury vehicles.

“Subaru are bringing in a stereoscopic camera to help in collision avoidance, Ford’s Mondeos sold in Australia today have blind spot and lane departure warnings, driver fatigues alerts and adaptive cruise control; and that’s why it gets a five star safety rating,” he said in September.

“Cars sold at around $50,000 have pre-crash speed reduction. These things are no longer at the top end of the market – they are happening [in the wider market] – and happening in Australia.”

According to McIntosh, more than 30,000 people were injured in road-related accidents in Australia every year. In his estimation, the role of safer cars would in themselves make a 50 per cent reduction in the number of road fatalities within the next decade.

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