Australia is set to make autonomous emergency braking (AEB) a mandatory safety feature for all new passenger vehicles by the early 2020s.
Currently a voluntary fitment for car companies, but required if a vehicle is to achieve the much-desired five-star ANCAP safety rating, AEB is these days regarded as a critical driver aid for avoiding accidents, injury and loss of life.
Using radar sensors and/or cameras, AEB can autonomously brake a vehicle without input from the driver. It can operate at low and/or high speed and some systems can also detect cyclists and pedestrians.
AEB has been found to reduce rear-end crashes by up to 38 per cent, and in the US, police-reported crashes have reduced by 55 per cent for vehicles fitted with this technology.
In Australia, 31 per cent of new vehicles on-sale were fitted with AEB in 2018.
The attitude to AEB varies enormously between car companies. For instance, Kia fits it standard to the $14,190 Picanto mini-hatch, but it’s still a $2410 option on a $100K Porsche Macan.
The shift to mandatory application in Australia is happening because the federal government is a signatory to a draft UN standard for the international application of AEB.
“As part of the National Road Safety Action Plan 2018–2020, the Australian government is evaluating the case for mandating autonomous emergency braking (AEB) for new cars and light commercial vehicles,” a spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities confirmed.
“Australia has contributed to the development of a draft standard for AEB through the United Nations vehicle standards forum. It has now been agreed that the draft text will be considered this year for final adoption by the UN.
“Implementation timing is not determined as part of the UN process. Australia will likely consider similar timing as for other major markets.”
Forty countries have signed up to the draft standard, with ratification expected mid-year.
Japan is set to be the first to introduce it next year. The European Union is expected to follow suit in 2022. The world’s two biggest auto markets, the US and China, are not part of this process because they are not signatories to the agreement that produces UN regulations.
Perhaps aware that some people would be concerned about mandatory AEB being a form of ‘big brother’ control, the draft standard makes clear the driver can take back control at any time by actions such as turning the steering wheel or operating the accelerator.