Even though driving automation tends to get all of the attention and captures the imaginations of people hoping to dramatically reduce traffic deaths, Automatic Emergency Braking systems may be the real unsung heroes of driving safety, with studies from the IIHS finding that rates of rear-end collisions with injuries can be reduced by 59 percent with Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems.
These systems can help make driving a lot safer. But to make them work, the right sort of sensors need to be used, and, you probably won’t be shocked to learn that a lidar company thinks lidar works well. They did do some dramatic demonstrations to make their point, though, and those demonstrations involved fake kids being smacked into bits by Teslas and Audis, over and over.
Want to see some video of mannequins getting knocked apart by cars that don’t seem to even bother slowing down? Of course you do:
Here’s some more video from Luminar’s test area at CES, this time in nighttime conditions and some good sounds of a mannequin getting creamed, punctuated with laughter:
Luminar’s lidar system is mounted on that Lexus SUV with the obscured badges, and based on the videos, does seem to be effective at detecting the mannequin-pedestrians and inflatable sex cars, something that can’t be said for the other cars used in this set of pretty basic tests.
Here’s another test showing the lidar-equipped car stopping for a kid-mannequin after doing a lane change, and with the inflatable car blocking view of the kid; the car still detects the fake kid, and stops:
This technology isn’t automated driving, it’s a driver assist system, and it’s becoming increasingly common on cars, even though it’s not yet mandatory as of this year.
The fact that lidar is being used here to augment the usual camera and radar-based detection systems is especially interesting in the context of Tesla, because Tesla’s demure CEO Elon Musk famously derided the technology as a “fool’s errand” and that “anyone relying on lidar is doomed. Doomed!”
Okay, but that Tesla looked kinda like a fool smacking into that very doomed fake kid there. Just saying.
This isn’t to say that Tesla or Audi or Jaguar or any other company’s AEB systems don’t work, because I’m sure they do in certain circumstances. But, there’s very clearly room for improvement, and for a system with as much potential to add real safety advantages as AEB, there’s no point in having some innate rejection of a sensor system if it can be shown to work better.
These tests aren’t conclusive, but they’re interesting, and even a little grimly funny when those fake limbs go flying.
Maybe they should fill the dummies with chili, or something?