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The rise of FCW and AEB safety systems

By February 8, 2019News, Safety

The introduction of anti-skid brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) have dramatically improved the overall safety of our vehicles in recent years, but it seems two new acronyms are now stealing the limelight.

Forward collision warning (FCW) and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) have become the latest must-have essentials for new vehicles – though legislating them as mandatory features of new vehicles under the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) still seems a while away for some.

Many of your newer fleet vehicles may already have them these systems onboard, but it’s important that you and your drivers are aware of what these are and how they are working to improve your overall vehicle safety. The below information is a helpful guide to the ins and outs of FCW and AEB technologies and their overall importance to an industry committed to safety.

Forward Collision Warning (FCW)

What are FCW systems?

Forward collision warning systems are an active safety feature that warns drivers in the event of an imminent frontal collision. When the FCW system-equipped vehicle comes too close to another vehicle in front of it, a visual, audible, and/or tactile signal occurs to alert the driver to the situation.

How do FCW systems work?

Like other safety systems that share the same parts but perform different functions (notably, anti-lock braking systems and traction control), a FCW system is often paired with adaptive cruise control. This is because both systems make use of a scanning device mounted at the front of the vehicle to measure the distance from vehicles in front of you.

There is a substantial number of ways that FCW systems work, including variations in the method used to detect potential collisions and the ways that the vehicle prepares itself to stop or prepares for a collision after an alarm has been activated. Warning systems use radar, a laser, or a camera to detect vehicles ahead

When would a FCW system be useful?

FCW systems are useful whenever a driver is at risk of colliding with a vehicle (or, depending on the type of system, a pedestrian or animal) directly ahead. A variety of relatively common situations have the potential to put drivers at risk for this type of collision:

  • A line of cars ahead is stopped at a green light due to an obstacle in the intersection, and you are driving too fast towards it.
  • Cars are travelling too close to one another and not leaving a safe distance between vehicles.
  • The car ahead unexpectedly slows down to turn without signaling.
  • The vehicle ahead decelerates rapidly for a pedestrian crossing the road, but you do not immediately notice the braking.


Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)

What are AEB systems?

Autonomous emergency braking is a form of automatic braking which stops your car automatically if it senses you’re about to hit an object such as a vehicle stopped in front or in some cases people on the road.

AEB is becoming more common across manufacturers as standard, or optional equipment as part of a wider safety package.

Are all AEB systems created equal?

There are three main categories of braking systems, and it’s important to know the differences and various capabilities of each one.

For example some systems will only slow the car to reduce the impact of a crash – look for words like ‘collision mitigation’ which only lessen the severity of an unavoidable accident rather than avoid an impact outright. Others are only effective up to lower speeds and often referred to as low speed or city braking.

Low speed systems: These target city driving where crashes often occur at low speeds but can cause debilitating injury such as whiplash. Typically, these systems look for the reflectivity of other vehicles and are not as sensitive to pedestrians or roadside objects.

High speed systems: These typically utilise long range radar to scan further ahead of the vehicle (up to 200 metres) which allows for higher closing speeds. Another advantage of radar is it’s less susceptible to interference from atmospheric conditions that can interfere with lasers.

Pedestrian detection systems: These versions use a camera(s) combined with radar to detect vulnerable road users through their shape and characteristics. The way in which pedestrians move relative to the path of the vehicle is calculated to determine whether they are in danger of being struck. Some high end systems can work at speeds up to 210km/h and bring the car to a complete stop.

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