Assessment of Integrated Pedestrian Protection Systems with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Passive Safety Components

Objective: Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems fitted to cars for pedestrians have been predicted to offer substantial benefit. On this basis, consumer rating programs—for example, the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP)—are developing rating schemes to encourage fitment of these systems. One of the questions that needs to be answered to do this fully is how the assessment of the speed reduction offered by the AEB is integrated with the current assessment of the passive safety for mitigation of pedestrian injury. Ideally, this should be done on a benefit-related basis.

The objective of this research was to develop a benefit-based methodology for assessment of integrated pedestrian protection systems with AEB and passive safety components. The method should include weighting procedures to ensure that it represents injury patterns from accident data and replicates an independently estimated benefit of AEB.

Methods: A methodology has been developed to calculate the expected societal cost of pedestrian injuries, assuming that all pedestrians in the target population (i.e., pedestrians impacted by the front of a passenger car) are impacted by the car being assessed, taking into account the impact speed reduction offered by the car's AEB (if fitted) and the passive safety protection offered by the car's frontal structure. For rating purposes, the cost for the assessed car is normalized by comparing it to the cost calculated for a reference car.

The speed reductions measured in AEB tests are used to determine the speed at which each pedestrian in the target population will be impacted. Injury probabilities for each impact are then calculated using the results from Euro NCAP pedestrian impactor tests and injury risk curves. These injury probabilities are converted into cost using “harm”-type costs for the body regions tested. These costs are weighted and summed. Weighting factors were determined using accident data from Germany and Great Britain and an independently estimated AEB benefit. German and Great Britain versions of the methodology are available. The methodology was used to assess cars with good, average, and poor Euro NCAP pedestrian ratings, in combination with a current AEB system. The fitment of a hypothetical A-pillar airbag was also investigated.

Results: It was found that the decrease in casualty injury cost achieved by fitting an AEB system was approximately equivalent to that achieved by increasing the passive safety rating from poor to average. Because the assessment was influenced strongly by the level of head protection offered in the scuttle and windscreen area, a hypothetical A-pillar airbag showed high potential to reduce overall casualty cost.

Conclusions: A benefit-based methodology for assessment of integrated pedestrian protection systems with AEB has been developed and tested. It uses input from AEB tests and Euro NCAP passive safety tests to give an integrated assessment of the system performance, which includes consideration of effects such as the change in head impact location caused by the impact speed reduction given by the AEB.