There is very little that a car will do without driver input. Even a system like cruise control requires us to make a conscious decision to set a certain speed, and to remain alert throughout the entire drive.
Yet this is quickly changing. We've all heard about the impressive advancements being made in autonomous vehicle research and development. Tesla, the maker of all-electric vehicles, has equipped its cars with semi-autonomous capabilities that allow it to maintain safe speeds and steer itself. Meanwhile, Google is working on a vehicle that it hopes will be able to safely navigate all roads – and any obstacles that appear in the way.
"Toyota announced that automatic braking systems will become standard equipment by the end of 2017."
Most people's first experience with autonomous driving will not involve this cutting-edge technology. Instead, they may drive a car that is equipped with an automatic braking system. Though there are many different versions of this feature, the basic operations remain the same: Automatic braking systems allow a car to detect an obstacle and slow down or stop the vehicle before a collision occurs.
Automatic braking can already be found in many high-end models and some consumer cars, and it looks poised to become even more widespread. This March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration struck an informal deal with 20 automakers in which they agreed to make automatic braking standard by 2022. Some seem willing to follow an even quicker timetable.
Toyota Speeds Up Automatic Braking Timetable
At the New York Auto Show, Toyota announced that automatic braking systems will become standard equipment on nearly every Toyota and Lexus model by the end of 2017 – four years ahead of schedule.
"At Toyota, we are committed to creating better ways to move for everyone," Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America, said in a statement. "High-level driver assist technologies can do more than help protect people in the event of a crash; they can help prevent some crashes from ever happening in the first place. We are proud to help lead this industry in standardizing these systems and bring automated braking to our customers sooner rather than later."
Different models will be equipped with different systems. Lexus vehicles, for instance, will use a camera and millimeter-wave radar to detect forward obstacles. Toyota vehicles will use both of these, as well as laser beam sensors. Both are designed to react before a driver does, particularly one who is distracted.
What is notable about Toyota's announcement is that it will get automatic braking into the hands of average consumers much faster than expected. It wasn't long ago that this technology was expected to be too expensive for all but the most high-end buyers. But as more people get ahold of this complex technology, the need for adept maintenance will increase. A future with widespread automatic braking is one in which drivers will rely on their brakes more than ever, and they will seek out testing services to ensure that they are getting top performance.