The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) this week announced it is developing a dedicated nighttime test for Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), with plans to publish the first official nighttime pedestrian crash prevention ratings later this year.
The IIHS says crash rates for pedestrian crashes of all severities are 27 percent lower for vehicles equipped with pedestrian AEB than for unequipped vehicles, while injury crash rates were 30 percent lower. However, many of these systems can only successfully detect pedestrians during the daytime or on well-lit roads, leading the safety watchdog to now develop a dedicated low-light testing program for AEB systems.
To put its new nighttime AEB evaluation to the test, the IIHS rounded up eight small crossovers made by eight different manufacturers. These vehicles had their AEB systems tested in complete darkness on the covered test track at the IIHS Vehicle Research Center. Each was tested twice: once with the low beams on and once with the high beams on. The sample of test vehicles included vehicles with AEB systems that use a single camera, dual cameras, a single camera and radar and a radar only. The test vehicles were a 2019 Subaru Forester, 2019 Volvo XC40, 2020 Honda CR-V, 2020 Hyundai Venue, 2021 Chevy Trailblazer, 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, 2021 Toyota C-HR and 2022 Volkswagen Taos.
The IIHS found that AEB performance “generally declined,” in the dark – save for the radar-only Taos, as radar performance is not light-dependent. This has tradeoffs, though, as the Taos had the worst performance in daylight. As such, the best performers in the nighttime tests, the Toyota C-HR and Ford Bronco Sport, both use a combination of both camera and radar to enable AEB capability. That said, the IIHS says the Subuaru Forester and Chevy Trailblazer, which were the only vehicles with camera-only systems and no radar, achieved very similar nighttime results to the CH-R and Bronco Sport.
The automaker says the newest systems in the test performed the best – a likely sign that automakers are already placing more emphasis on the nighttime performance of their active safety systems.
“The better–performing systems are too new to be included in our study of real–world crashes,” the IIHS concluded. “This may indicate that some manufacturers are already improving the nighttime performance of their pedestrian AEB systems.”
The full results of this safety test will be released by the IIHS in the near future.