Every five years, the Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) gets together with other industry executives to reevaluate industry needs. This year the organization published “Vision 2030: A Safer Future for Mobility” detailing how it plans to implement measures that will ultimately improve automotive safety and accomplish the mission it set out to achieve—having zero fatalities on the road. The vision was developed based on the concept that automotive technology will create a Vision Zero future where there are zero fatalities from vehicle collisions due to the precision and advancement of technology.
Prior to Vision 2030, Euro NCAP’s safety rating was based on four areas of assessment including adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, pedestrian protection, and safety assistance. Its new criteria for ratings will include safe driving, crash avoidance, crash protection, and post-crash safety.
Crash avoidance focuses on testing technologies like lane keep support systems, AEB (automatic or autonomous emergency braking), and AES (autonomous emergency steering). The new tests will ensure these systems will be safer, which in turn will cause car manufacturers to compete over implementing technologies that can mitigate collisions.
So how can vehicles implement better crash avoidance technologies? The secret is in the sensors they incorporate and their advanced capabilities.
For example, next-generation radars will perform very differently than current radars on the market and have unique capabilities that provide enhanced safety and differentiate the performance of advanced crash avoidance technologies. High-resolution, or perception, radars that have long-range sensing and can map the entire surroundings of the vehicle, provide better protection to pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users. They provide high-resolution data on the environment in all weather and lighting conditions and can detect real-time Doppler information about the speed and direction of surrounding vehicles. The advanced sensor technology also eliminates false alarms, reduces phantom braking, and can detect objects at a long range, which provides protection when the vehicle drives at high speeds.
The sensor suite cannot just be equipped with cameras since they don’t operate well at night or in harsh weather conditions and can’t detect objects at long range. Traditional radar also has the inability to detect small objects at a long range and often has false alarms.
For AEB to be reliable in the dark and at high speeds, which requires long-range sensing, perception radar is critical. Perception radar can detect static objects, enabling the vehicle to take extreme action. Traditional radars simply do not have these capabilities. And even more advanced radars, without a 2K channel count, will not be able to support AEB due to limited dynamic range, which can prevent it from identifying small objects on the road where there are other highly reflecting objects such as commercial vehicles.
To enhance AES capabilities, the vehicle will need to have 360-degree perception and long-range detection into the adjacent lanes to see if it is safe to switch lanes. To move into the next lane safely, the vehicle needs to estimate the distance, speed, and orientation of surrounding objects very quickly, which can be very hard for cameras, especially in poor lighting conditions.
Because the NCAP experts understand the importance of their rating and the confidence it instills in consumers, they are now adding nighttime testing to ensure that these technologies are effective in various lighting conditions—a challenge for most current systems.
Understanding the importance of enhancing safety features, OEMs and Tier 1s are incorporating the right sensors to create a true Vision Zero of no traffic fatalities, one that instills trust in consumers and provides a safer path ahead.
Kobi Marenko, CEO of Arbe Robotics, wrote this article for Inside Autonomous Vehicles.