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Automatic Braking Technology

Automatic Braking Technology
Automatic Braking Technology

An automatic braking system, or an auto brake, is a safety braking technology which activates a vehicle's braking system automatically (when necessary) to avoid collision.  Today we don’t think too much about our brakes other than when it’s time to replace them and paying the bill.  There is a lot of technology sitting in today’s modern brakes. Most automatic braking systems apply a visual and/or audible warning whenever it detects an imminent collision. Automatic braking technologies use a combination of sensors and brake controls in order to prevent collisions, including high-speed ones. Most auto brake systems are developed to slow down the speed of the vehicle before it hits something. However, there are other auto brake systems which are designed to stop collisions altogether.

Each car manufacturer has its own auto braking system technology, such as radar and lasers. However, they all use the same sensor feature that detects any presence of an object that may get in the way of the vehicle's path. Once the auto brake system detects an object, it proceeds to determine whether the vehicle is going faster than the object in front of it. A speed differential gives an indication that the vehicle is likely to hit something. In this case, the system activates the vehicle's brakes automatically. Cadillac was among the first to develop collision avoidance systems during the 1950s. The Cadillac Cyclone used a radar technology which detected objects in front of the car. But the new technology was too costly then and somewhat unreliable.

Fast forward to the 1990s, a team of scientists and engineers at Hughes Research Laboratories in California developed what was to be the first modern collision avoidance system. Like the earlier systems, this particular system also used radar, but it wasn't commercially available on most vehicles yet. In 1997, Toyota launched the world's first commercial radar cruise control system on Celsior (for the Japanese domestic market only) which was based on this technology. In 2006, Mercedes released a further update with the Brake Distronic Plus system, which used long- and short-range radar that can bring a car to a stop even if the driver does not touch the brake pedal to prevent rear-end collisions.

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions cause over half a million injuries and nearly two thousand deaths annually. Today only about 10% of new vehicles include automatic braking as a standard feature and about half offer it as an option. The U.S Department of Transportation is pushing for standards to require automatic braking systems on all new vehicles by 2025.  The good news is many of the leading manufacturers are going to try and meet that commitment much sooner – some by 2022.

You can be a smart shopper today and look for cars that offer an automatic braking system.  Even if you are an outstanding driver you can’t control what everyone around you does.  This technology can definitely help to keep you safer when out on the road.  Automatic braking technology is also going to be a key component in the coming self-driving car revolution.


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