VIDEO: AAA finds flaws in tech designed to brake for you while backing up

New AAA research found that systems designed to automatically emergency brake when a vehicle is backing up “are not foolproof.”

The technology is designed to keep drivers from backing into pedestrians or approaching vehicles.

AAA studied four vehicles that combine Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking (Reverse AEB) and rear cross-traffic mitigation. The systems are designed to detect rear cross-traffic and automatically apply brakes to avoid colliding with other cars, pedestrians, cyclists or stationary objects.

“Although this technology has proven to significantly reduce rear-end collisions, they are not foolproof,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “Our testing resulted in collisions with mock vehicles and pedestrians. So, drivers should remain alert and not become overly reliant on the technology.”

AAA said its engineers wanted to address two questions:

How do reverse AEB systems with rear cross-traffic mitigation perform when backing out of a parking space into the path of an oncoming vehicle when a vehicle parked in the next space is blocking the view?How do reverse AEB systems perform when encountering a static simulated child pedestrian behind the vehicle?

Read the full report.

Four popular 2023 model year vehicles equipped with reverse AEB with rear cross-traffic mitigation were evaluated as part of AAA’s research. Only reverse AEB systems with the ability to detect and automatically brake for rear cross-traffic were eligible for testing.

Key Findings:

Scenario A (backing out of a parking space into the path of an oncoming vehicle, with the test car perpendicularly parked)Scenario B (backing out of a parking space into the path of an oncoming vehicle, with the test car in an angled parking spot)Aggregated Results for Scenario A and Scenario B: The systems automatically applied brakes in 26 of 40 test runs (65%) and successfully prevented collision in 1 of 40 test runs (2.5%).Scenario C (backing out of a parking space into the path of a stationary child pedestrian)Results for Scenario C: The systems automatically applied brakes in 15 of 20 test runs (75%) and successfully prevented collision in 10 of 20 test runs (50%)

NHTSA estimates that every year, there are approximately 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries caused by backover collisions. Of those fatalities, approximately 31% are children under 5 years old. In addition to vehicle-to-vehicle collisions, it is important to evaluate the effectiveness of these systems in preventing or mitigating collisions with pedestrians, especially children.

AAA’s Advice for Drivers

Drivers should not rely on reverse AEB systems to prevent collisions when backing up. Even in the pedestrian scenario, with a stationary target and an unobstructed view throughout the test run, collision was only prevented on 50% of runs.Drivers should remain fully aware of their surroundings, utilize backup cameras to enhance their awareness, and back up cautiously.Drivers should understand how these safety features work and give them the best chance to provide benefit.When backing up with an obstructed view, drivers should back up cautiously and pause once the rear of their vehicle has cleared the obstruction to allow for the sensors typically mounted on the rear bumper area to detect cross traffic. This will give the system more time to detect a potential collision and bring the vehicle to a stop.

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