Study: Pedestrian Detection Tech Works, but Has a Long Way to Go

By Paul Riegler on 3 October 2019
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A new study found that, as pedestrian fatalities are increasing dramatically, driver-assistance technology designed to detect and avoid pedestrians has made significant technological gains. 

The study, conducted by the Automobile Association of America, found that these systems, which incorporate automatic emergency braking, still have a long way to go to reliably detect people in the path of an automobile.

The non-profit tested four 2019 model-year cars – a Chevrolet Malibu, a Honda Accord, a Tesla Model 3, and a Toyota Camry – equipped with these features. The study found that the pedestrian detection systems were “significantly challenged” in several test scenarios it conducted using dummies to represent adults and children on the road.

Pedestrian-detection systems are typically part of a suite of driver-assistance technology in vehicles and use cameras, radar, and other sensors to identify people and sometimes animals in the vehicles’ path.  They are designed to alert the driver to the obstacle ahead and apply the brakes if the driver fails to react quickly enough.

The tests found that performance was inconsistent and the systems didn’t activate properly after dark, when the majority of roadway deaths occur. 

Frequent Business Traveler has always cautioned in its reviews that drivers must remain engaged when behind the wheel, regardless of the safety equipment offered in vehicles and the results of this study underscore the importance of doing so.

The future, however, is bright.

“Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise, proving how important the safety impact of these systems could be when further developed,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering. “But, our research found that current systems are far from perfect.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)