Safety in automobiles has been progressively growing due to many facets of the ecosystem. These facets span across norms and regulations, types of vehicle technologies, transportation corridors and higher speeds, different manufacturing and styling techniques. Above all, safety is hygiene in automobiles rather than an option or feature that a customer can purchase.
The paradigm of safety aspects has started changing rapidly in light of autonomous driving vehicles, newer lighting systems and the active and passive safety expectations from a consumer. Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) used to be simple radar units that triggered flashing lights to increase driver awareness. Later, these systems evolved to automatically assist controlled braking and steering. It is also an expectation that autonomous driving systems must instantly power on so that an automobile can safely act as fast as the driver would have, in a similar situation.
Due to ADAS, there are many additional sub-systems and components that have been integrated in a vehicle. Software, communication networks, multiple components and embedded systems are being configured differently. The safety protocol activations have been reconfigured to ensure the incorporation of camera resolution and speed, the radar & sensor reception and the speed of communication over the networks, whether inside the vehicle or outside the vehicle, while handshaking with global and local positioning systems. ADAS, of course, can identify critical situations on the road and activate active/ passive safety mechanisms, including brakes and lane changing.
The interesting reality on the ground is that there are new mandated European laws for automobiles that are specifically directed to Lane Departure Warning Systems (LDW), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Automatic Braking Systems (ABS) and Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS). These are for all types of vehicle technologies.
REVIEW OF REGULATIONS
There is a review of regulations, currently, to make ADAS mandatory. These regulations are changing the landscape for autonomous driving to make it more intelligent and interactive. The cameras and lighting systems, along with the radars, for vehicles that are either connected with ADAS or in conventional vehicles have become critical in the quest of meeting safety regulations.
Higher vehicle speeds and long distance driving have created additional safety demands from vehicles. Drivers are seeking retina sensing safety systems that engage them and not get drowsy or diverted during long drives. In its initial days, reverse sensing cameras and airbags were generally deployed on premium vehicles. Over the years, these have become a common feature in vehicles as such the resolution, workability in all kinds of environment and reliability has become critical.
Switching to conventional vehicles, many of the safety features are now hygiene. The airbag materials, deployment, sensors, software, the numbers integrated in vehicles due to regulations or due to brand imaging have changed too. Parking assist is a common feature between premium and conventional vehicles. Other active systems have also evolved and their cost of implementation is within the reach of a consumer. Today, the fact is that the consumers are willing to accept and pay additional cost to acquire vehicles that are better safety equipped.
There is transverse polyvalence that helps in optimising cost for manufacturers and also gives consumers the advantage of having best features in the equipment. The technology innovations have also helped with skill development, cross regional growth and most importantly re-calibrate the regulations and norms so that OEMs are not challenged with manufacturing multiple vehicle variants that add cost and overheads. Given that the norms and regulations are met, the sustainability of safety systems is dependent on the response time, ergonomic integration, polyvalence and their flexible scalability in deployment.