A Loughborough University study looked at a number of collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists in the UK and determined that while autonomous emergency braking systems worked well while people were on foot, they were much less successful if people were on two wheels.
The problem they found, according to the research published in the Accident Analysis & Prevention journal, relates to the field of vision that AEB systems use to scan the road ahead.
The researchers focussed on the three-second period before the crash. It determined that in most instances the cyclist was only slightly closer to the car than the pedestrian just before the impact – 42 metres for those on two wheels compared with 50m for those on foot – suggesting the distance the car was away from the point of impact didn’t really matter.
What did, though, was put down to the narrow angle in which the AEB sensors were scanning the road ahead, which was fine for detecting foot traffic, but a bit crap at spotting a faster-moving cyclist on a collision course.
“The implication of the results is that AEB systems for cyclists require almost complete 180-degree side-to-side vision but do not need a longer distance range than for pedestrians,” it found.
The number of cyclists killed on Australian roads in the 12-month period to the end of March stands at 43, more than double the previous year’s number. A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia late last year found cyclists were also suffering an alarming rise in serious injury resulting from car crashes, explained in part by a higher number of two-wheeled traffic taking to city streets.