According to figures from Thatcham Research, the UK’s leading independent automotive research centre, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems are, “probably the most significant development in vehicle safety since the seat belt”, with the potential to prevent more than 120,000 casualties over the next decade.
Commenting on Volkswagen’s decision, Peter Shaw, Chief Executive at Thatcham Research, said, “It is shocking that AEB, a proven life-saving technology, has not been widely available to van owners or drivers until now. We call upon all vehicle manufacturers to follow Volkswagen’s lead, and fit AEB as standard across all their light commercial vehicles as soon as possible.”
Autonomous emergency braking systems work through a radar and/or camera built into the front end of a vehicle. The system monitors the distance to the vehicle (or any other obstacle) in front and becomes active if the gap closes too quickly. The first stage is to warn the driver with audible and visual signals. If the driver fails to react, there will be a jolt of the brake and the brake assistant’s responsiveness will be increased. If the driver does not brake strongly enough, the system continues to increase the braking pressure to maximum.
The system can bring the vehicle to a complete stop with no input from the driver; at speeds of less than 18mph (30 km/h), this should result in the van coming to a complete stop without hitting the obstacle in front.
This change will come into effect from the 1st of June and any customers ordering a new Volkswagen Caddy, Transporter or Crafter van will be guaranteed the safety feature as standard.
- Read more Volkswagen news, reviews and features at The Van Expert
- What is autonomous emergency braking and how does it work? (The Car Expert)