Not all autonomous emergency braking systems are created equal, according to a detailed report by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program.
The independent crash test authority has retested five of Australia’s top 10 selling vehicles to enable a direct comparison with newer top sellers already assessed to the more stringent ANCAP criteria.
The results show varying effectiveness of AEB systems between makes and models – and, typically, it’s older cars that have less effective AEB.
Of those five models retested, just one – the Mazda CX-5 – received the maximum “advanced” rating, suggesting high effectiveness of the car’s auto braking system.
ANCAP found they were “not as effective in detecting and avoiding collisions with pedestrians – particularly at night”.
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The Ford Ranger scored “intermediate”, slotting between “advanced” and “basic”.
Four of the five models evaluated in 2018 and 2019 scored the highest “advanced” rating, while only the Kia Cerato dropped a level down to “intermediate”.
ANCAP director of communications and advocacy Rhianne Robson said it was not surprising that newer models generally performed better in AEB testing, something she expects to continue as the technology improves.
“Vehicle safety technology continues to advance at a rapid rate with more sophisticated systems entering the market through new market entrants and model facelifts, and as these vehicles are updated, we expect their performance to improve,” said Mrs Robson.
Just as early anti-lock braking systems and stability control were often rudimentary in their performance, it appears many AEB systems could do with improvement.
Despite retesting those older models, ANCAP will not be incorporating the results in the overall vehicle safety ratings, saying “the results from this analysis do not replace or alter existing ANCAP safety ratings or contributing scores”.
So even though there is clear room for improvement with the AEB performance on some vehicles they will maintain their five-star ANCAP ratings earnt up to six years ago.
Crash avoidance systems are the new battleground in the quest to make cars safer.
While there are dozens of systems - including lane departure assistance, intersection crash avoidance and blind spot warning – AEB is considered one of the most effective, especially for avoiding nose-to-tail crashes.