Volkswagen Showcases Pedestrian Detection System, Claims Works at Speeds of 40 MPH
Safety plays a large role in new vehicles. Automakers are developing new technology to make cars safer than ever and it's paying off. Manufacturers rarely give consumers an in-depth look at how these systems work or what makes them tick, though, which can leave a lot to imagination or misunderstanding. Volkswagen wants consumers to know exactly how its Pedestrian Monitoring technology, which is a part of its Front Assist system, works and released some information on how it can help save lives.
Constantly Looking For Pedestrians
To endow vehicles with a pedestrian monitoring function , Volkswagen places a small radar directly behind the VW emblem at the front of the vehicle. The radar, which is capable of working in daytime and at night, sweeps an area 400 feet in front of the vehicle hundreds of times a minute. What the system is looking for, in Volkswagen's words are the specific signature of pedestrians that are about to cross the street in front of the car.
At different speeds, the system works differently. From 4 and 18.6 mph, the vehicle will automatically apply the vehicle's brakes to avoid a collision if the pedestrian monitoring system detects movement in front of the car. The second range is from 18.6 to 40 mph and will see the system send the driver visual and audible alerts to warn him or her of a collision. Automatic brakes are engaged if the driver does not respond to the alerts.
For 2019 models, VW's Pedestrian Detection system is available on every model except three: the Beetle, Jetta, and Passat. The automaker hopes to have autonomous emergency braking and Front Assist on "nearly all" models by 2022.
Will It Help?
While pedestrian detection systems like the one Volkswagen is now offering on its models can drastically reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities, there's an issue with the speed of the German automaker's system. As The Detroit Free Press points out, citing data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 60 percent of fatal accidents involving an automobile and a pedestrian from 2013 to 2017 were in locations where the speed limit was 40 mph and above. During those four years, that's more than 16,000 pedestrian deaths.
This isn't a hit on VW's system, which could very well save a large number of lives in the future, it's just that implementing higher speeds could possibly save more. "I think a lot of this is baby steps, and it's a good first step for sure," said David Aylor, manager of active safety testing for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
In the IIHS' testing, Volkswagen's vehicles with the brand's Front Assist system received a rating of "Superior," the best score possible, from the institute in its front crash prevention test.
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