Popular mid-sized sedans fail miserably in American pedestrian detection testing
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The influential Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in America has slammed the pedestrian avoidance systems in some popular mid-sized sedans after they failed to avoid crashes in simulated tests.
The IIHS was particularly critical of the semi-autonomous crash avoidance systems in the Ford Fusion (sold here as the Mondeo), Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, scoring them “no credit”, the lowest ranking of the four-tiered scores. The IIHS said “they failed to slow significantly in multiple scenarios”.
The IIHS test simulated three scenarios, including a child crossing the street from behind a parked car. Worryingly, given the lack of traffic awareness in children, it was that child test that proved most challenging for the technology.
The IIHS found the Fusion/Mondeo performed worst of the 16 cars testing, repeatedly failing to spot the child dummy.
“It had particular difficulty in the child crossing the street scenario, not slowing down in any of those tests,” said IIHS president David Harkey.
The IIHS also scored the system fitted standard on more affordable versions of the popular Mercedes-Benz C-Class as “basic”, the second-lowest score, in contrast to the top-ranked “superior” ranking given to the more advanced autonomous emergency braking system used on more expensive C-Class variants.
Other cars to achieve the top “superior” rating were the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Volvo S60, Subaru Outback and Nissan Maxima, the latter not sold here.
The Maxima received particular credit for avoiding the pedestrian dummy in each of the IIHS tests, while IIHS also praised the Outback – which uses a twin camera system marketed as EyeSight – for making effective technology standard on mainstream models.
The news is particularly relevant to Australia, where most of the cars tested are sold.
While pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have dropped in 2019 compared with 2018, the rolling five-year trend has them creeping up 1.9 per cent. Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are the only two categories that have increased, going against a recent trend of dropping vehicle occupant fatalities.
The IIHS criticism of advanced auto braking technologies – one of the systems required in the planned transition to autonomous vehicles – comes off the back of strong criticism of repeatedly broken promises by car makers about the promised arrival of driverless cars by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
The tech genius was speaking at a JD Power Auto Evolution conference in Las Vegas last week when he said he had “given up” on the idea of fully autonomous vehicles.
“What we’ve done is we’ve misled the public into thinking this car is going to be like a human brain,” he said, adding he was not sure autonomous vehicles would be working properly in his lifetime.