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Euro NCAP will begin testing how effective Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems in modern vehicles are at detecting and autonomously preventing collisions with pedestrians.

The European safety organisation’s Secretary General, Dr Michiel van Ratingen, said, “these new tests are the first in the world to assess highly automated vehicle features and driver assistance systems from the pedestrian’s perspective.”

He continued, “many new cars now offer some form of AEB system that can help prevent car-to-car collisions, but only some are also able to detect pedestrians. By checking the results on Euro NCAP’s website, consumers will be able to verify manufacturers’ safety claims and choose the right AEB option.”

The new Euro NCAP test will aim to simulate real-world situations such as adults walking and running into a vehicle’s path and that of a child stepping out from behind a parked car.

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For tested vehicles to do well in these tests, their AEB systems should be able to detect and prevent collisions with the test dummies. The tests will be conducted at speeds of up to 40 km/h. The Euro NCAP will also simulate the tests at speeds of 40 to 60 km/h, while the AEB-equipped cars are expected to reduce collision speeds to less than 40 km/h for a more survivable impact.

In 2014 alone, statistics show that 47% of Europe’s 26,000 road deaths involved pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. The safety organisation says that it is simply reacting to the worrying figures, suggesting that new car safety technologies are a must to address the growing number of vulnerable road users.

Euro NCAP explained that most collisions occur when drivers fail to brake, brake too late or brake too gently, potentially due to drivers either being distracted, or the sudden emergence of a pedestrian in a moving vehicle’s path. To reduce the number of such incidents, AEB systems use constantly active lasers, radar and/or cameras to detect collisions and apply the brakes accordingly – either reducing impact speed or avoiding a collision altogether.

Van Ratingen explains that while the technology isn’t yet capable of preventing every single collision, AEB-equipped vehicles that score well in its new tests, “will be better equipped to prevent these thousands of needless deaths and life-changing injuries on our European roads.”

He continued, “therefore, from 2016 the rating will give credit to those vehicle models that offer this capability. At the same time, these tests will make it possible for new car buyers and fleet operators to make an informed choice.”

Vehicles found with more a forgiving front-end design in simulated pedestrian collisions have long been awarded higher scores in Euro NCAP safety tests. In 2013, the organisation began testing AEB systems in relation to car-to-car collisions. With the recently-implemented pedestrian tests, Euro NCAP also says that it will soon be testing these systems for cyclists detection and collision prevention.