There's rarely one single moment when an experimental technology becomes widely accepted into the mainstream. In the automotive world, cutting-edge ideas gradually appear in many different settings until their use is eventually second nature.
This process is currently occurring for automatic braking systems, which promise to revolutionize vehicle safety. Part of a rising wave of driver-assistance features, automatic brakes are relevant to average motorists and professional drivers alike.
Multiple stories developing
The following are just a few of the ways in which automatic brakes are making their presence felt in the automotive news cycle. The fact that there isn't just one path to their mainstream adoption bodes well – the more use a technology receives across regions, manufacturers and vehicle categories, the more natural its acceptance will be.
A top pick
Automatic braking is in good company on the recent Business Insider list of features to look for in new vehicles. The piece listed emergency-situation automatic brakes alongside present and near-future innovations such as over-the-air software updates and connections to iOS and Android devices.
Automatic emergency brakes receiving a nod as desirable features is a good sign for the tech's adoption, especially as the source noted that 10 of the largest automakers vowed in 2015 to make them standard equipment.
Business Insider also undertook a valuable service and specified what the technology entails. While some might worry that automatic features take away too much driver autonomy too often, automatic emergency brakes typically use warning signals to alert motorists to danger. Only once a threat seems imminent do the brakes kick in on their own.
Tesla re-implements auto features
Another turning point in automatic emergency braking acceptance has to do with Tesla, the advanced carmaker that has frequently put itself at the center of the autonomous vehicle news cycle. Bloomberg reported that while Tesla had dropped automatic emergency braking from its standard software package for approximately six months, it is rolling the functionality back out at the behest of a major cultural gatekeeper: Consumer Reports.
According to Bloomberg, the lack of auto-braking in new Tesla Model S sedans and Tesla Model X SUVs would have cost those vehicles 2 points on the Consumer Reports car rating system. The source noted that the two-point drop for lack of automatic braking hit the Model X especially hard, as its score is considerably lower than that given to the Model S. The deactivation of automation features follows a hardware shift and supplier change by Tesla.
The fact that lack of automatic brakes can have a material impact on a car's quality rating proves their rising prominence. In fact, Bloomberg noted that in the current Consumer Reports model-year assessments, 19 percent of cars possess automatic emergency braking for speeds under 55 miles per hour. By comparison, 14 percent of cars can handle auto braking at speeds higher than that.
The trucking sector
While consumer use of automatic emergency braking may be critical for the technology's mainstream adoption, that's not the only place it is being employed. Big Rigs reported that Mercedes is rolling out auto-braking features into large trucks around the world. Braking systems that stop trucks when they sense pedestrians are already in use in Europe and are now rolling out in Australia.
The news provider explained that Mercedes' heavy vehicle unit is working together with its consumer car team to get this new technology into use. The two divisions are sharing IT features, and the same pedestrian-sensing features that are debuting in heavy trucks are already part of the options available in Mercedes passenger vehicles. The source noted that the auto-brakes perform warnings for drivers and partially brake the vehicle, and that they work at relatively low speeds.
A great time for development
Of course, when automakers perform technological leaps in hardware and software, those companies and their suppliers have to perform a great deal of development in a very short time. Getting effective new braking components on the market can ideally position a manufacturer within a growing and evolving sector – but quality cannot suffer.
When your organization is developing or refining braking components, it's important to implement testing methods that will clearly reveal any flaws and ensure your products fulfill their purpose. That's where a complimentary brake testing consultation from Greening comes in, ensuring you commit to relevant and effective practices.