Testing is done to simulate three scenarios.
- An adult crossing the road as car’s approach at both 12 and 25 miles an hour.
- A child popping out from between parked cars again with cars at 12 and 25.
- An adult walking down the right-hand shoulder with traffic with cars passing at 25 and 37 miles an hour, that one simulates your drunk uncle stumbling home from the tavern.
Points are awarded based on how well the car can reduce its speed and avoid hitting the pedestrian, as well as how well it tells the driver there’s a pedestrian out there to avoid being hit. Let’s face it we’re not in the autonomous era yet so you’ve got to keep that driver looped in as early as possible. Now why is the IIHS adding this facet to their battery of tests now?
One of them is a very urgent factoid between 2009 and 2017 we have seen a 45% increase in US pedestrian deaths from being hit by a car. That’s way over indexes. The 10% overall increase in auto fatalities across the same period something’s way out of line here. Reasons often cited for this spike include phones distracting drivers and pedestrians. Profusion of SUVs with taller front ends that impact your head and chest instead of your legs and in the 3rd of fatalities the pedestrian was drunk.
Secondly affordable mainstream cars now typically have the tech required to avoid pedestrians. Various forward sensors and automatic braking software that is tied into those sensors it’s no longer just a luxury car thing. Finally there’s been enough data gathered over the years this technology has been available let’s say the last decade or less that insurers can now predict they’ll see up to a third fewer pedestrian collision claims from cars that have this built in. Never lose track of the fact that these top safety pick ratings are not just about helping you find the right car they’re about twisting automakers arms to install technology that will reduce claims.
Now a few vehicles have already been tested under this new pedestrian avoidance regimen in preparation for the full rollout. The top scores went to the Honda CRV, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4 and Volvo’s XC 40. They all got a score of superior, it’s as high as you can get. Finally, the technology we’re seeing now to avoid pedestrian collisions while impressive is going to seem quaint in a few years.
Lidar is going to start to proliferate as part of autonomy but it’s exceptionally good at spotting pedestrians at quite a distance and even predicting what they’re going to do next and avoiding that trajectory. We’ll also see the lift that 5G will give this area. Your 5G phone and the 5G car is out there in the future may be able to do a V2x connection where your phone is a beacon constantly telling all the cars around you, “I’m here” and maintain a distance around me. Kind of a virtual cellular forcefield those are not science fiction anymore.
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