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Autonomous driving technology could deliver 'huge' safety benefits, says Euro NCAP

Car safety testing body publishes its Road Map 2025

Mark Moran
13 September 2017
Euro NCAP cross traffic test conducted by Thatcham Research
Euro NCAP cross traffic test conducted by Thatcham Research

 

Euro NCAP is calling on car manufacturers to implement autonomous technology in new vehicles in a bid to boost road safety. The independent body for car safety has outlined targets for manufacturers to introduce certain levels of autonomous technology into their vehicles in its new Road Map 2025, published to mark its 20th anniversary.

The Road Map 2025 challenges vehicle manufacturers to offer the best possible technology as standard in all market segments and countries, protecting not only car occupants but also increasingly addressing the safety of other more vulnerable road users. 

NCAP calls on car-makers to add driver monitoring technology, automatic emergency steering and autonomous emergency braking to their vehicles by 2020. It also asks that cars gain vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technology by 2024.

While actively preventing crashes is made a priority, the Road Map seeks to moves the safety agenda further on by addressing accident scenarios like junctions where pedestrians, cyclists and motor cyclists are most likely to be killed or seriously injured in collisions with cars.

Euro NCAP has produced a video about Road Map 2025. To watch it click here 

Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP’s secretary general, said: “The potential safety benefits of automated driving are huge. If we can eliminate human error, we should see road casualty numbers tumbling and many lives being saved. But there is a lot of misunderstanding, over-expectation and perhaps some suspicion, of a world in which cars can drive themselves. Our role will be to provide clear information to consumers about the degree of automation in a car and how safely that automation has been implemented. Quite a challenge, but essential if Euro NCAP is to continue pressing for improvements from those who make cars and providing meaningful information to those who buy them.”

The Road Map outlines a timeline for the introduction of key protocol enhancements, including:

Primary Safety

  • Driver Monitoring (2020)
  • Automatic Emergency Steering (2020, 2022)
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (2020, 2022)
  • Vehicle-to-Vehicle Data Exchange and Vehicle to Infrastructure (2024)

Secondary Safety

  • Whiplash/Rear-end Crash Protection (2020),
  • Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety (2022)

Tertiary Safety

  • Rescue, Extrication and Safety (2020)
  • Child Presence Detection (2022)

 Road Map 2025 is part of Vision Zero, a strategy launched by Global NCAP designed to drastically reduce the number of injuries or fatalities caused by road accidents. Global NCAP figures from 2015 suggested that, out of 68m new cars bought that year, around a quarter failed to meet United Nations minimum safety standards, lacking airbags, anti-lock brakes or electronic stability control. NCAP is pushing for all cars to meet the UN’s minimum requirements by 2020.

Since its establishment in 1997, Euro NCAP has been a catalyst for advances in automotive safety. Its independent crash tests and assessment protocols aim to give consumers the knowledge to make informed car purchasing decisions. Euro NCAP estimates is work has save 76,000 lives have been saved in the EU as a result. 

Euro NCAP president Pierre Castaing, said: “Safety has come a long way since we started testing cars 20 years ago and consumers now see it as a key aspect of their purchasing decision. Many predict that the car and our personal mobility will change more in the next ten years than it has in the last one hundred. Going forward, one of Euro NCAP’s vital roles will be to offer clear, impartial guidance on these emerging and increasingly automated technologies, whilst also raising awareness of their significant life saving benefits.”

The Road Map was welcomed by UK testing body Tatcham Research, which pointed out that in the UK, 30% of all those Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) on the UK’s roads are Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs).

Peter Shaw, chief executive of the UK’s Thatcham Research said: “Euro NCAP’s Road Map 2025 is a significant message of intent, and marks a watershed in vehicle safety assessments and ratings. It is no longer about just protecting car occupants in an accident, but also assessing how capable a car can brake and steer automatically to avoid other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. It lays the foundations for safety assessment of autonomous vehicles.”

Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research’s director of research, raised concerns about the potential confusion being caused by the use of terms such as autonomous driving. “We have concerns over the way car manufacturers name and market assisted and automated driving functionalities, with ‘auto’ or ‘pilot’ prefixes,” said Avery. “People are looking for answers around how safe the new assisted and autonomous technologies are, and the Euro NCAP assessments and ratings will give clear information about how safely it operates, and what obligations the driver has around taking back control.”

A founder member of the international Research Council for Automobile Repairs (RCAR), Thatcham Research has been a member of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) since 2004.

 
 
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