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AAA finds reverse AEB not ‘foolproof,’ stresses importance of correct ADAS repairs

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Repair Operations | Technology
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AAA has found through simulated collisions on four 2023 model year vehicles that reverse automatic emergency braking (AEB) isn’t foolproof.

While known to significantly reduce rear-end collisions, AAA engineers wanted to know how reverse AEB with rear cross-traffic intervention performs when drivers back out of a parking space into the path of an oncoming vehicle with an adjacent parked vehicle blocking the view, and when a stationary child pedestrian is behind the vehicle.

Vehicles tested were the 2023 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited AWD, Lexus RX 350 Premium, Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo AWD Premium Plus Package, and Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL R-Line.

During each test run, the test vehicle sat in a parking space and was held in reverse with the brake pedal by the test driver. The subject vehicle then approached in a simulated near lane toward the test vehicle, reaching 15 mph at a minimum of 200 feet from the right side of the test vehicle.

Reverse AEB systems automatically applied brakes in 65% of test runs and prevented a collision in 2.5% of test runs in the backing-up scenarios involving a vehicle crossing behind the test vehicle.

With the child pedestrian, reverse AEB automatically applied brakes in 75% of test runs and prevented a collision in 50% of test runs.

While it is recommended that drivers turn and look behind them when backing out of a parking space, the presence of large vehicles in adjacent spaces can make it nearly impossible to see approaching traffic, AAA said.

“Drivers should not solely rely on these advanced driving systems to prevent collisions, but instead use them to enhance their awareness of their surroundings and support safe driving,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering, in a news release. “Above all, vehicle testing requirements for these systems should be updated to be consistent, taking into consideration unusual objects and more realistic scenarios with the goal of achieving the greatest safety benefit to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.”

The research findings report adds, “Drivers should understand how these safety features work and give them the best chance to provide benefit. These systems rely on sensors that are typically mounted on the rear bumper area of the vehicle. 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 these sensors to detect cross traffic. This will give the system more time to detect a potential collision and bring the vehicle to a stop.”

Based on its findings, AAA recommends drivers shouldn’t rely on reverse AEB systems to prevent collisions when backing up, and instead use backup cameras and other sensors to enhance their awareness.

“Back up cautiously when an object obstructs the view, allowing the ADAS sensors to ‘see’ or detect cross traffic, giving the system more time to see a potential collision and to bring the vehicle to a stop,” AAA wrote. “It’s important to make sure these systems are working properly and repaired accurately. 

“Testing standards for these systems are lacking in the United States, but are crucial to ensure they function properly in real-world scenarios. It’s important to evaluate not only their functionality but also their ability to address different situations that may arise. Taking a balanced approach to testing can help ensure that these systems are safe and effective for all users.”

As always, following OEM repair procedures is paramount for safe and proper repairs to ensure vehicles will protect passengers as intended fresh out of the factory if a future collision occurs. As AAA notes, ensuring ADAS work properly post-repair is part of that process, including pre- and post-scans and recalibrations.

When it comes to ADAS calibrations, one of the most important things for repairers to know is that their chosen scan tool returns accurate information in line with OEM repair procedures and that their shop setup is conducive to proper calibrations from level floors to correct lighting and more.

Refinishing certain colors also has the potential to play a large role in ensuring safety as well when it comes to ADAS radars and sensors, which was highlighted during the January Collision Industry Conference (CIC) meeting. For example, Mercedes-Benz USA Collision Programs Manager Benito Cid shared that some parts with sensors can’t be repainted and would have to be replaced instead. Other colors have a maximum amount of layers of coating such as primer, paint, and clearcoat; some parts can only be painted one additional time, he said.

AAA noted in its report that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Data Loss Institute analyzed insurance data for 2015-2018 Subaru vehicles and 2014-2015 General Motors vehicles with and without reverse AEB to find that reverse AEB decreased property damage liability claims by 28% and collision claims by 10%. The data led to AAA’s hypothesis that newer iterations of reverse AEB combined with rear cross-traffic warning would be more effective than earlier model year systems.

“This was reported to be the largest reduction in claims among all other ADAS features analyzed,” the AAA report states. “While reverse AEB has been shown to reduce property damage and collision claims, its effect on personal injury and fatality rates have been small compared to other ADAS like front AEB due to the lower speeds typical of backing collisions between vehicles. However, there is still a potential safety benefit of reverse AEB for vulnerable road users (VRUs) such as cyclists and pedestrians.”

A recent success story in ADAS functionality to prevent collisions was shared by General Motors about Super Cruise — its flagship hands-free technology.

Super Cruise launched in 2017. GM has incrementally expanded the Super Cruise network to include major Canadian, U.S., and state highways. The most recent expansion adds minor highways that connect smaller cities and townships.

More than 160 million miles have been driven accident-free with Super Cruise.

GM said it has added a group of highways to Super Cruise, bringing the total amount of lidar-mapped North American roadways on which the technology can operate to nearly 750,000 miles.

The OEM said features that have been enhanced or introduced since Super Cruise launched include Lane Change on Demand, Automatic Lane Change, enhanced navigation, hands-free trailering, collaborative steering, enhanced driver-requested offset, and improved curve handling.

The new roads have already started being added incrementally over the air, at no additional charge, and will continue to be added through 2025.

Most Super Cruise-equipped vehicles will receive this expansion except for the Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Bolt EUV, and Cadillac XT6, GM said. The average eligible vehicle will update its map within about one month of the GM brand site maps showing updated roads.


Featured image: AAA reverse AEB pedestrian test. (Provided by AAA)

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