Mercedes-Benz is a global leader in automotive safety, innovation, and performance. The company has been developing and implementing advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) for decades, aiming to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries on the road. One of the most important and effective ADAS features is the pedestrian emergency braking system, which can detect and avoid collisions with pedestrians in critical situations. This article will explore how this system works, how it has evolved over the years, and how it has saved 10 million lives since its introduction in 2011.
What is a Pedestrian Emergency Braking System?
A pedestrian emergency braking system is a feature that uses sensors, cameras, and radar to monitor the road ahead and identify potential hazards, such as pedestrians, cyclists, or animals. Suppose the system detects a risk of collision. In that case, it will alert the driver with visual and audible warnings and, if necessary, apply the brakes automatically to prevent or mitigate the impact. The system can also activate the PRE-SAFE® function, which prepares the vehicle and the occupants for a possible crash by tightening the seat belts, closing the windows and sunroof, and adjusting the seats and headrests.
The pedestrian emergency braking system is part of the Active Brake Assist (ABA) system, which can also prevent or reduce the severity of collisions with other vehicles or stationary objects. The ABA system is integrated with the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), which controls the brake force distribution, the engine torque, and the steering angle to stabilize the vehicle and avoid skidding or spinning.
How has the Pedestrian Emergency Braking System Evolved?
Mercedes-Benz has pioneered the development and implementation of pedestrian protection systems since the 1970s when it introduced the first impact-absorbing bumpers and energy-absorbing steering columns. In the 1990s, the company added airbags and seat belt tensioners to enhance the safety of the occupants, and in the 2000s, it introduced the PRE-SAFE® function and the Night View Assist system, which uses infrared cameras to improve the visibility of pedestrians and other obstacles in the dark.
In 2011, Mercedes-Benz launched the first generation of the pedestrian emergency braking system, which was available as an option for the E-Class and the S-Class models. The system used a stereo camera mounted behind the windshield to detect pedestrians in front of the vehicle and could initiate braking at speeds up to 50 km/h (31 mph). The system could reduce the speed by up to 25 km/h (16 mph), significantly lowering the risk of fatal pedestrian injuries.
In 2013, Mercedes-Benz improved the system by adding a long-range radar sensor to the front bumper, which increased the detection range and accuracy of the system. The system could now initiate braking at speeds up to 72 km/h (45 mph), and reduce the speed by up to 45 km/h (28 mph). The system could also recognize crossing and stationary pedestrians at the edge of the road and could activate the hazard warning lights to warn the following traffic.
In 2015, Mercedes-Benz enhanced the system further by incorporating a multi-mode radar sensor, which combined a long-range radar and a mid-range radar to cover a wider angle and a longer distance. The system could now initiate braking at speeds up to 105 km/h (65 mph), and reduce the speed by up to 50 km/h (31 mph). The system could also detect partially obscured pedestrians, such as those behind parked cars or trees, and adapt the braking intensity according to the situation.
In 2017, Mercedes-Benz introduced the latest pedestrian emergency braking system generation, which used a high-resolution stereo camera and a multi-mode radar sensor to provide a 360-degree view of the surroundings. The system could now initiate braking at speeds up to 130 km/h (81 mph), and reduce the speed by up to 70 km/h (44 mph). The system was also able to detect pedestrians in the dark, pedestrians on the opposite lane, and pedestrians moving in the same direction as the vehicle, and could cooperate with the Evasive Steering Assist system, which could help the driver to steer around the obstacle if braking alone was not enough.
How has the Pedestrian Emergency Braking System Saved Lives?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.3 million people die every year in road traffic crashes, and about 23% of them are pedestrians. Pedestrian fatalities are especially high in low- and middle-income countries, where they account for 39% of the total road deaths. The main causes of pedestrian crashes are speeding, distraction, impaired driving, and poor visibility.
The pedestrian emergency braking system can help to prevent or reduce the severity of pedestrian crashes by providing the driver with timely and effective assistance in critical situations. The system can also help to improve the driver’s awareness and attention and encourage safer and more responsible driving behavior. The system can also reduce the stress and fatigue of the driver and enhance the comfort and confidence of the driver and the passengers.
According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), vehicles equipped with pedestrian emergency braking systems had 35% fewer pedestrian crashes and 68% fewer pedestrian injuries than vehicles without the system. The study also found that the system was more effective at lower speeds and in daylight conditions and that the system could reduce the pedestrian fatality risk by 90% if all vehicles had the system.
According to Mercedes-Benz, the pedestrian emergency braking system has saved 10 million lives since its introduction in 2011. The company estimates that the system has prevented or mitigated more than 2.5 million pedestrian crashes and has reduced the pedestrian injury risk by 40%. The company also claims that the system has reduced CO2 emissions by 1.5 million tons and has saved more than 500 million liters (132 million gallons) of fuel.