When Will Automatic Braking Become Standard Equipment?

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
when will automatic braking become standard equipment

There was a time when seat belts were considered unnecessary, reserved as an optional extra for motorists who ventured out onto roadways in a state of white-knuckle fear. What pathetic bags of flesh, many thought, wrapping themselves in a polyester harness because they can’t handle themselves on the road — thinking it will save them from the reckoning of sheet metal and glass.

We know better now. Seat belts are proven life savers and advanced restraint systems are compulsory for both automakers and occupants. That will likely be the path of automatic emergency braking takes as well. Nissan announced Thursday it would make auto braking systems standard on a large portion of 2018 models sold in the United States. Toyota is doing the same. But the technology is not yet ubiquitous, nor has it acquired universal public approval. Many worry it could be too invasive or provide a false sense of invincibility, so it could be a while before AEB becomes expected equipment on all new models.

Autonomous features, even lower-tier elements like emergency braking, require extensive fine turning and additional hardware to operate effectively. That incurs additional cost — something a lot of automakers don’t want to bake into base models. However, regulators and advocates for vehicular safety are urging companies to adopt the technology wholesale.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates seventeen percent of recently tested vehicles have a crash avoidance system as standard equipment, typically in a European or Japanese luxury vehicle. Meanwhile, domestic automakers are a little less eager to roll out automatic braking.

Ford “has a plan to standardize over time,” according to a statement on Thursday. Currently, automatic braking systems are reserved as options on a handful of Ford and Lincoln models. It will also be available on the F-Series for the 2018 model year. Fiat Chrysler also offers automatic braking as optional equipment with an eventual plan to standardize it.

General Motors provides collision avoidance systems as optional equipment on about two-thirds of its current lineup but has not announced plans to make it standard. “Any time you have a voluntary agreement you have a spectrum of implementation,” Jeff Boyer, GM’s vice president for safety, told Reuters earlier this week. When pressed on a timeline for standard automatic braking, Boyer said, “let’s just say we honor the voluntary commitment.”

The agreement Boyer is referencing is last year’s accord, where twenty automakers made a pact to include AEB systems as standard equipment by 2022. Of course, there is nothing binding about the agreement and many have petitioned the agency to begin the formal regulatory process to mandate the technology. However, NHTSA believes the voluntary agreement is sufficient and could result in faster deployment of the technology.

It doesn’t seem to care how we get there, so long as we do. NHTSA is a serious proponent of the technology, estimating it could eliminate one-fifth of all traffic collisions. “Do the math. That’s 5 million crashes every year — 20 percent reduction means 1 million less. Those are big numbers,” said former NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind in an interview last year.

While 2022 sounds reasonable, it would require a serious commitment from automakers to see that happen. But it isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibilities. Continental AG, which supplies Nissan with its auto brake systems, says business is looking up. “We see it accelerating,” said Continental’s head of business development Dean McConnell. “It varies. There are some [companies] that are being aggressive” while the rest are holding back.

[Image: General Motors]

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6 of 36 comments
  • MBella MBella on Jun 10, 2017

    These systems are becoming very double edged swords for manufacturers. People don't pay​ enough attention to their surroundings and then don't realize why the car gives them a warning message or auto brakes. We get calls daily. We also had a customer who admitted that a post was visible in her backup camera, and her parking sensors where beeping, but backed into the post anyway because the car was supposed to stop by itself. The system isn't designed to work at parking lot speeds and doesn't work in reverse.

    • See 2 previous
    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jun 11, 2017

      @MBella There are people who will do just that - depend on technology they don't understand to absolve them of any responsibility to provide human input. Remember the woman who set the cruise control on her Ford motorhome and went back to make a sandwich? When the vehicle went into a ditch, she sued Ford for not telling her the cruise control doesn't steer the vehicle, and won. Judges and juries don't understand technology either. Chances are, some will assume a vehicle with automatic braking will even steer around trouble on its own. Whether they should have driver's licenses, or even be declared wards of the state (there's probably too many of them for that), is another matter.

  • RangerM RangerM on Jun 10, 2017

    Carjacking just got easier?

    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Jun 11, 2017

      If the guy's holding a gun or knife, duck and floor it! Dashcam footage a bonus!

  • Zerofoo There's a joke here somewhere about Tim's used car recommendations, Tassos, and death traps.
  • Tassos Subaru really knows how to take fugly to ever higher levels, and sell every one of the (of course very few) it makes. As if the number of sales negates the fugliness.Don't hold your breath. I bet this will NOT be the vehicle James Bond arrives at the Casino in Monte Carlo with in his next flick. (if any)
  • ToolGuy Government overreach. Park the Ford in your air-conditioned garage on a maintenance charger and this won't be a problem.Here's some (old) general background if you are interested.@ILO, there are 3 Fords, and Ford Pro™ is the one with the bright future 🙂
  • ToolGuy No harm no foul (no one died), business is business, yada yada. Why must everyone pick on dealers?-this post dedicated to Ruggles
  • Hydrocrust Parts