Prospects for the Collision-Free Car: The Effectiveness of Five Competing Forward Collision Avoidance Systems
Gorman, Thomas Ian
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Rear-end collisions in which the leading vehicle was stationary prior to impact and at least one vehicle was towed from the crash site represent 18% of all yearly crashes in the United States. Forward Collision Avoidance Systems (FCASs) are becoming increasingly available in production vehicles and have a great potential for preventing or mitigating rear-end collisions. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of five crash avoidance algorithms that are similar in design to systems found on production vehicles of model year 2011. To predict the effectiveness of each algorithm, this study simulated a representative sample of rear-end collisions as if the striking vehicle was equipped with each FCAS. In 2011, the ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V) published a test report comparing advanced emergency braking systems. The ADAC tested production vehicles of model year 2011 made by Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Volvo, and VW. The ADAC test results were used in conjunction with video evidence and owner's manual information to develop mathematical models of five different FCASs. The systems had combinations of Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Assisted Braking (AB), and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). The effectiveness of each modeled system was measured by its ability to prevent collisions or reduce the collision severity of reconstructed crashes. In this study, 977 rear-end crashes that occurred from 1993 to 2008 were mathematically reconstructed. These crashes were investigated as part of NHTSA's National Automotive Sampling System, Crashworthiness Data System (NASS/CDS). These crashes represent almost 800,000 crashes during that time period in which the struck vehicle was stationary. Part of the NASS/CDS investigation was to reconstruct the vehicle change in velocity during impact, ∆V. Using energy and Newtonian based methods, the ∆V in each crash was calculated as if the vehicle was equipped with each modeled FCAS. Using the predicted reduction in crash ∆V, the expected reduction in the number of moderately-to-fatally injured (MAIS2+) drivers was predicted. This study estimates that the most effective FCAS model was the Volvo algorithm which could potentially prevent between 79% and 92% of the crashes simulated in this study and between 76% and 94% of associated driver injuries. This study estimates that the BMW algorithm would prevent the fewest number of crashes (between 11% and 14%), but would provide admirable benefits to driver safety by preventing between 21% and 25% of driver injuries. The VW algorithm would be the least effective at preventing driver injuries if the system were to be implemented across the U.S. fleet. This algorithm offers a 19% reduction in crashes, but only prevents 15% of driver injuries. This study introduces and demonstrates a unique method of comparing potential benefits of competing FCAS algorithms. This method could be particularly useful to system designers for comparing the expected effects of design decisions on safety performance. This method could also be useful to government officials who wish to evaluate the effectiveness of FCASs.
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