As recent IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) tests have proven, most AEB (automatic emergency braking) systems can’t see at night, but Kobi Marenko, CEO of Arbe Robotics, writes that, for the automotive industry to move forward, consumers need to trust the technology powering autonomy.
“As we expected, most of these pedestrian AEB systems don’t work very well in the dark, but it’s clear automakers can rise to this new challenge,” said IIHS President David Harkey. He made this statement after the IIHS conducted tests to see if automatic emergency braking systems can detect pedestrians in the dark. The results: most can’t.
From a select group of 23 vehicles tested at night, only four vehicles got a score of “superior” while more than half got labeled “basic” and others did not qualify to receive any credit.
The results of the IIHS tests are disappointing and come at a time when pedestrian fatalities have increased, with U.S. NHTSA estimates demonstrating that pedestrians killed on the road spiked 80% in 2021. In 2021 alone, there were 7300 pedestrian deaths and 75% of those happened at night when, as newly discovered, AEB systems are not operating as they should.
Aside from the lack of AEB systems detection at night, IIHS Research Scientist Alexandra Mueller told Repairer Driven News recently that “unintentional misuse” has also contributed to recent collisions.
“The way many of these systems operate gives people the impression that they’re capable of doing more than they really are,” Mueller said in a statement. “But even when drivers understand the limitations of partial automation, their minds can still wander. As humans, it’s harder for us to remain vigilant when we’re watching and waiting for a problem to occur than it is when we’re doing all the driving ourselves.”
Nonetheless, the results of this study prove the importance of sensors that can detect and classify vulnerable road users in both the daylight and at night and in complicated weather conditions like snow, sleet, fog, and heavy rain that can also cause AEB system ineffectiveness. The IIHS test brought to light the “sensor gap” that exists—the limitations of current radars and cameras on the vehicles that resulted in a lack of pedestrian detection.
For AEB systems to effectively operate in all weather and lighting conditions, the most effective sensor needs to be integrated. Unlike current radars, and even the most advanced ones, perception radar is the only ultra-high-resolution sensor that can detect and classify objects, including vulnerable road users, at long range, high resolution in azimuth and elevation, and provide free-space mapping surrounding the entire vehicle, ensuring that anyone or anything around the vehicle is sensed, regardless of the lighting or harsh weather.
For the automotive industry to move forward, consumers need to trust the technology powering autonomy. For technology to prove its effectiveness, all vehicles need to be equipped with sensors that can handle every use case so that collisions are avoided and trust can be restored in the innovation that promises a future with no car accidents.
The mass market expects the automotive industry to prove that technology is more capable than what has been tried and true—human beings. Choosing a sensor that has super-sensing capabilities is the only option to restore confidence, guarantee safety for all those on the roads, and be ready for the road ahead—even in the dark.
Kobi Marenko, CEO of Arbe, wrote this article for Inside Autonomous Vehicles.