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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

USDOT proposes speed limiters for large commercial vehicles; potential savings up to ~$1B in fuel each year depending on limit

August 26, 2016

The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are proposing equipping heavy-duty vehicles with devices that limit their speeds on US roadways, and requiring those devices be set to a maximum speed, a safety measure that could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year.

Specifically, NHTSA is proposing to establish a new Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) requiring that each new multipurpose passenger vehicle, truck, bus and school bus with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 11,793.4 kilograms (26,000 pounds) be equipped with a speed limiting device.

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NTSB issues preliminary report for investigation into Tesla Autopilot fatal crash

July 27, 2016

The US National Transportation Safety Board issued its preliminary report for the investigation of the fatal 7 May 2016, highway crash in Florida involving the Tesla Model S and Autopilot. The preliminary report does not contain any analysis of data and does not state probable cause for the crash.

The preliminary report details the collision involving a 53-foot semitrailer in combination with a 2014 Freightliner Cascadia truck tractor and the 2015 Tesla Model S. According to system performance data downloaded from the car, the indicated vehicle speed was 74 mph (119 km/h) just prior to impact; the posted speed limit was 65 mph (105 km/h).

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CMU study: even partially-automated crash avoidance delivers financial and safety benefits

July 19, 2016

A new cost-benefit analysis by researchers at Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering shows that the public could derive economic and social benefits today if partially-automated collision avoidance features were deployed in all cars.

In a paper published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, they evaluated the benefits and costs of fleet-wide deployment of three such technologies: blind spot monitoring; lane departure warning; and forward collision warning crash avoidance systems within the US light-duty vehicle fleet.

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Consumer Reports calls on Tesla to disable and update auto steering function, remove “Autopilot” name

July 14, 2016

Consumer Reports is calling on Tesla to disable the automatic steering function in the Autopilot driving-assist system available in its Model S vehicles until the company updates the function to confirm that the driver’s hands remain on the steering wheel at all times.

The consumer organization, which has owned and tested three Teslas (2013 Model S 85, 2014 Model S P85D, and 2016 Model X 90D), said that Tesla should also change the name of the Autopilot feature because it promotes a potentially dangerous assumption that the Model S is capable of driving on its own.

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CDC: US has highest motor vehicle crash death rate among high-income countries; could be cut in half with proven strategies

July 07, 2016

About 90 people die each day from motor vehicle crashes in the United States, resulting in the highest death rate among 19 high-income comparison countries, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There were more than 32,000 crash deaths in the US in 2013, with more than $380 million in direct medical costs.

Athough the US has made progress in road safety—reducing crash deaths by 31% from 2000 to 2013—other high-income countries reduced crash deaths by an average of 56% during the same period. Lower death rates in comparison countries, as well as the high prevalence of risk factors in the US, suggest that more progress can be made in saving lives, according to the CDC. Compared with other high-income countries, the US had the:

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NHTSA projects 7.7% increase in US traffic fatalities for 2015 year-on-year; significant increase in motorcyclist and non-occupant deaths

July 02, 2016

A just-released National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistical projection of traffic fatalities for 2015 estimates that 35,200 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes—an increase of about 7.7% as compared to the 32,675 fatalities reported in 2014. If the 35,200 figure turns out to be accurate, this will mark the highest level of fatalities since 2008, which saw 37,423 fatalities.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) preliminary data shows that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2015 increased by about 107.2 billion miles—about a 3.5% increase. The fatality rate for 2015 increased to 1.12 fatalities per 100 million VMT, up from 1.08 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2014—about a 3.7% increase. Fourth quarter of 2015 represents the fifth consecutive quarter with year-to-year increases in fatalities as well as the fatality rate.

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BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye partner on open platform to bring fully autonomous driving to market by 2021

July 01, 2016

BMW Group, Intel, and Mobileye are collaborating to bring solutions for highly and fully automated driving into series production by 2021. The three are creating an a standards-based open platform—from door locks to the datacenter—for the next generation of cars.

The goal of the collaboration is to develop future-proofed solutions that enable drivers to not only take their hands off the steering wheel, but reach the “eyes off” (level 3) and ultimately the “mind off” (level 4) level transforming the driver’s in-car time into leisure or work time.

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NHTSA begins preliminary evaluation of Tesla Model S Autopilot fatality

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has begun a preliminary evaluation of a fatal highway crash involving a 2015 Tesla Model S operating with Autopilot activated. ODI is opening the preliminary evaluation (PE16007) to examine the design and performance of any automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash.

In a blog post, Tesla Motors was quick to point out that this is the first known fatality in more than 130 million miles driven with Autopilot activated. Tesla also pointed out that among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles; worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles.

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Coodriver GmbH and Volkswagen sign strategic partnership; using smartphone or GPS transmitters to alert drivers about children

April 22, 2016

Volkswagen has signed a strategic partnership with Coodriver GmbH, a cloud-based application service provider for traffic safety, on the integration of a connected vehicle application into new Volkswagen models that will help motorists to see children on the road in time to avoid dangerous situations.

Coodriver developed the “Schutzranzen” (protection satchel) app that uses smartphone or GPS transmitters to alert drivers in time about hazardous situations visually and/or audibly.

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IIHS: Speed limit increases in US caused 33,000 deaths over 20 years

April 14, 2016

A new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study shows that increases in speed limits over two decades have cost 33,000 lives in the US. In 2013 alone, the increases resulted in 1,900 additional deaths, essentially canceling out the number of lives saved by frontal airbags that year.

Charles Farmer, IIHS vice president for research and statistical services and the author of the study, looked at deaths per billion miles traveled by state and roadway type. Taking into account other factors that affected the fatality rate—including changes in unemployment, the number of potential young drivers (ages 16-24) and per capita alcohol consumption—he found that each 5 mph increase in the maximum speed limit resulted in a 4% increase in fatalities. The increase on interstates and freeways, the roads most affected by state maximums, was 8%.

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RAND: Autonomous vehicles cannot be test-driven enough miles to demonstrate their safety; alternative testing methods needed

April 13, 2016

Autonomous vehicles would have to be driven hundreds of millions of miles and, under some scenarios, hundreds of billions of miles to create enough data to clearly demonstrate their safety, according to a new report from RAND, a non-profit research organization.

Under even the most-aggressive test driving assumptions, it would take existing fleets of autonomous vehicles tens and even hundreds of years to log sufficient miles to adequately assess the safety of the vehicles when compared to human-driven vehicles, according to the analysis.

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Nissan, Savari, UC Berkeley and City of Sunnyvale collaborate on real-world V2X testbed with DSRC

March 29, 2016

Nissan Motor Company, Savari, UC Berkeley Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH), and the City of Sunnyvale have collaborated on a real-world V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) testbed spanning 4.63 square miles with three public intersections in Sunnyvale, California. The City of Sunnyvale pilot is examining the role of V2X communications and its potential benefits on easing traffic congestion, and enhancing fuel economy and public safety.

Savari is a provider of V2X safety communication technology; its smart city deployments now span 130 square miles of public roadways. Prompted by Nissan’s vision initiative to establish a V2X testbed, PATH deployed Savari StreetWAVE road-side-units (RSUs) and coordinated with the City of Sunnyvale and Nissan on the project, which started in August 2015 and is continuing to provide data.

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Toyota and Lexus making automated braking standard on nearly every model and trim level by end of 2017; 4 years ahead of NHTSA/IIHS target

March 21, 2016

Toyota will begin to include the and Lexus Safety System+ and Toyota Safety Sense packages, anchored by automatic emergency braking (AEB), on almost every new vehicle by the end of 2017—four years before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) 2022 target. (Earlier post.) Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America. made the announcement at the New York Auto Show.

Already available as a low-cost option on a broad range of Lexus and Toyota vehicles, Lexus Safety System+ and Toyota Safety Sense are designed to help address three key areas of driver assistance: preventing or mitigating frontal collisions – including pedestrians; helping keep drivers within their lane; and enhancing road safety during nighttime driving. Technologies include Toyota’s Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams.

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Munich Re America launches transit bus collision avoidance pilot in Washington with Mobileye Shield+ system

March 17, 2016

Munich Reinsurance America, one of the largest reinsurers in the US, in collaboration with the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool (WSTIP), has launched a pilot program equipping transit buses with the award-winning collision avoidance system Mobileye Shield+. Rosco Vision Systems is the official North American provider and driver-interface manufacturer of this system.

Mobileye is a technology leader in the area of software algorithms, system-on-chips and customer applications that are based on processing visual information for the market of driver assistance systems (DAS). Shield+, designed for large vehicles operating in urban environments, enables early detection of cyclists and pedestrians by using an array of strategically placed artificial vision smart cameras.

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New Buick LaCrosse upgrades computing power from 17 to 31 ECUs; new electronic control system

March 16, 2016

The all-new Buick LaCrosse, which launches this week in China, features significant upgrades in computing power and networking to advance connectivity and safety features.

There are 31 ECUs distributed in the all-new Buick LaCrosse—its predecessor utilized only 17. This 82% increase in the number of ECUs helps to optimize calculating efficiency. In order to facilitate the handling of large quantities of data, a specific data bus is arranged to connect ECUs, each of which can process data independently.

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NHTSA proposes updating electrical safety requirements for fuel cell and mild hybrid vehicles; alignment with int’l standards

March 04, 2016

The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to update electrical safety requirements for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and mild hybrid vehicles.

The NPRM proposes adding an optional method for post-crash electrical safety into the standard, FMVSS No. 305, that involves physical barriers to prevent electric shock due to direct or indirect contact of high voltage sources. This proposed optional method affords the same level of electric shock protection as the other methods for electrical safety currently in FMVSS No. 305 and would enable innovative powertrain technologies. The proposed updates to FMVSS No. 305 align the standard with international regulations and the latest version of the voluntary industry standard, SAE J1766, “Recommended Practice for Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicle Battery Systems Crash Integrity Testing”.

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New algorithm improves speed and accuracy of pedestrian detection; cascade detection + deep learning

February 08, 2016

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a pedestrian detection system that performs in near real-time (2-4 frames per second) and with higher accuracy (close to half the error) compared to existing systems. The technology, which incorporates deep learning models, could be used in “smart” vehicles, robotics and image and video search systems.

The new pedestrian detection algorithm developed by Nuno Vasconcelos, electrical engineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, and his team combines a traditional computer vision classification architecture—cascade detection—with deep learning models.

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Bosch says its haptic gas pedal can reduce fuel consumption up to 7%; safety warnings via nav and V2X systems

January 25, 2016

The automotive industry has been exploring the use of haptic gas pedal technologies as a way to reduce fuel consumption and increase safety by signaling the driver using a mechanism such as a vibration or a counterforce in the accelerator pedal. Continental announced its Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal in 2010, Frost & Sullivan anticipates wide premium-segment deployment of the active gas pedal technology post-2018 (earlier post); and Mercedes-Benz offers the technology in the C 350 PLUG-IN HYBRID (earlier post).

Bosch now says that its active gas pedal allows drivers to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 7%. This is possible because the gas pedal can be networked with other automotive functions, such as the transmission. Up to now, the only indication drivers have had of the best time to shift gear has been in the form of small arrows on the instrument display. The active gas pedal comes with the option of a palpable indication of the best time to shift gear.

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SAE’s highest technical safety award goes to hydrogen fueling paper

January 21, 2016

At the Awards Ceremony at the SAE 2016 Government/Industry Meeting, SAE International honored the recipients of the Ralph H. Isbrandt Automotive Safety Engineering Award, including the lead author, Jesse Schneider, (BMW); along with co-authors Jihyun Shim (Hyundai); Graham Meadows (IMPCO); Steven R. Mathison (Honda); Michael J. Veenstra (Ford); Rainer Immel (Opel); Morten Wistoft-Ibsen (H2 Logic); Manfred Greisel (Wenger Engineering); Spencer Quong (SQI); Timothy McGuire (MB RDNA); and Peter Potzel (Daimler).

The Ralph Isbrandt Award annually recognizes the author(s) delivering the most outstanding paper at an SAE Society or section meeting on the subject of automotive safety engineering. The 2016 Ralph Isbrandt award recognizes the advancement to SAE literature of the recipients’ SAE World Congress Technical Paper on Hydrogen Fueling, “Validation and Sensitivity Studies for SAE J2601, the Light Duty Vehicle Hydrogen Fueling Standard” (SAE 2014-01-1990). (Earlier post.)

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IAV and Microsoft demonstrate connected highly automated driving vehicle for enhanced safety; cloud-based analytics and big data

January 11, 2016

At CES 2016 last week, IAV and Microsoft demonstrated a connected highly automated driving (CHAD) vehicle capable of connecting with the Microsoft Azure cloud and Windows 10 to enable communication that helps prevent vehicle and pedestrian accidents and increases driving comfort and convenience. This vehicle-2-x communication (V2X) connectivity approach uses data from the vehicle’s surroundings to improve smart service for convenience and enhance safety by anticipating and mitigating potential hazards.

The two demonstrated a use case pf the approach: a pedestrian with a wearable device is walking toward the road, concealed by a parked vehicle. The device is located by nearby intelligent roadside infrastructure that is connected to the Azure cloud. The CHAD vehicle then receives a V2X warning that permits the safe, convenient adjustment of its driving dynamics in order to detect and avoid the hazard.

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Virginia Tech report finds national crash rate for conventional vehicles higher than crash rate of self-driving cars

January 09, 2016

A new report, “Automated Vehicle Crash Rate Comparison Using Naturalistic Data,” performed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and commissioned by Google, shows that the crash rates for self-driving cars are lower than the national crash rate of conventional cars.

Results show that when data is adjusted for unreported crashes and take into account accident severity, the national crash rate for conventional vehicles is higher than the crash rate of self-driving cars.

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IHS: connectivity, infotainment, safety to drive growth in automotive display systems to $18.6B by 2021; > 11% CAGR

December 30, 2015

Driven by continued innovation in vehicle connectivity and safety technologies, global revenue from automotive display systems will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 11% to $18.6 billion by the end of 2021, according to a new forecast by IHS Inc. This will add nearly $9 billion in annual revenue compared to 2015.

Data from the Automotive Display Systems Forecasts from IHS represents production of instrument cluster systems, head-up display systems and center stack display systems as full automotive modules, not just display panels. Center stack display systems are expected to account for half of the overall revenue growth, while head-up display (HUD) systems will deliver the strongest revenue CAGR at nearly 21% from 2015.

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UCLA researchers develop exceptionally strong and lightweight new metal nanocomposite

December 24, 2015

A team led by researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has created a super-strong yet light structural metal nanocomposite with extremely high specific strength and modulus, or stiffness-to-weight ratio. The new metal is composed of magnesium infused with a dense and even dispersal of ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles. It could be used to make lighter airplanes, spacecraft, and cars, helping to improve fuel efficiency, as well as in mobile electronics and biomedical devices.

To create the super-strong but lightweight metal, the team developed a new way to disperse and stabilize nanoparticles in molten metals. They also developed a scalable manufacturing method that could pave the way for more high-performance lightweight metals. A paper on their work is published today in Nature.

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Continental to demonstrate dynamic eHorizon technology during CES; Connected Energy Management and Blind Curve Warning

December 16, 2015

Continental will demonstrate its latest generation of eHorizon technology during CES next month in Las Vegas. Continental will show with two use cases based on dynamic eHorizon technology—Connected Energy Management and Blind Curve Warning—how data from the cloud can predict the road ahead, ultimately reducing fuel consumption and making vehicles safer. Both demonstrations will be conducted on public roads in Las Vegas.

Continental has already shown that the static eHorizon—introduced commercially in 2012—which uses certain data from a static map stored in the vehicle, enables a significant reduction of fuel consumption (around 3% on average). As a result of this success, Continental has taken the development of eHorizon even further by using the cloud and crowd intelligence to enhance the digital map in the dynamic eHorizon Backend with fresh and accurate information.

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Mercedes adding semi-autonomous Active Lane Change Assist to new E-Class in spring

December 09, 2015

Mercedes-Benz will expand the new Driving Assistance package of the future E-Class for the market launch in spring with the semi-autonomous Active Lane Change Assist function. The radar- and camera-based assistance system supports the driver in changing lanes—for example, when passing on multi-lane roads. The system offers a significant further increase in comfort and can help to prevent collisions.

Active Lane Change Assist is a sub-function of DRIVE PILOT and thus a component of the Driving Assistance package from Mercedes-Benz, which will have its world premiere in the new E-Class next year. The new E-Class will be launched in Germany in spring 2016.

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Researchers develop computer model for crash injury risks based on precrash occupant position

November 13, 2015

Researchers led by Ashley Weaver, assistant professor at the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University Center for Injury Biomechanics, have developed a method to compute crash injury metrics and risks as functions of precrash occupant position.

The process allows for quantification of the sensitivity and uncertainty of the injury risk predictions based on occupant position to understand further important factors that lead to more severe motor vehicle crash injuries. The modeling results provide details not available from using crash test dummies (anthropomorphic test devices, or ATDs).

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UMTRI preliminary analysis of autonomous vehicle safety

October 30, 2015

Researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) have performed a preliminary analysis of the cumulative on-road safety record of self-driving vehicles for three of the ten companies that are currently approved for such vehicle testing in California (Google, Delphi, and Audi).

The analysis compared the safety record of these vehicles with the safety record of all conventional vehicles in the US for 2013 (adjusted for underreporting of crashes that do not involve a fatality). The study, by Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak, made four main findings:

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2016 Prius c hybrid gets big safety boost with Safety Sense-C system

October 17, 2015

Toyota gave its Prius c—the smallest of the brand’s eight hybrid models—a major styling and interior upgrade for 2015; for 2016 the big enhancement is the available Toyota Safety Sense C (TSS-C), which equips the car with an array of driver-assist technologies: Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Assist, and Automatic High Beams.

In adapting Toyota’s hybrid technology to the Prius c platform, each of the system’s major components benefitted from a design focus to reduce weight and size while improving efficiency. Toyota’s hybrid technology integrates a gasoline engine, an electric motor within a Continuously Variable Transaxle, a nickel-metal hydride battery, a power control unit (inverter), a DC-DC converter, a step-up converter and a hybrid control computer.

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$90M UR:BAN research initiative presenting results on ADAS and traffic management for cities; intelligent vehicles

October 07, 2015

In Düsseldorf, the 31 partners—automobile and electronics manufacturers, suppliers, communication technology and software companies, research institutes and cities—involved in the UR:BAN research initiative (Urban Space: user-friendly assistance systems and network management) presented the results of four years of work in a two-day event.

UR:BAN’s goal is to develop advanced driver assistance and traffic management systems for cities, with a focus on the human element in all aspects of mobility and traffic. The project pursued its objectives in three main thematic target areas: Cognitive Assistance; Networked Traffic System; and Human Factors in Traffic.

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Toyota testing new Highway Teammate automated driving vehicle; aiming for commercialization around 2020

October 06, 2015

Toyota has been testing a new automated driving platform, a modified Lexus GS called Highway Teammate, with the aim of launching related products by around 2020. In addition to demonstrating the capabilities of next-generation safety technologies, the vehicle represents Toyota’s view of the evolving driver-car relationship in the age of artificial intelligence.

Toyota believes that interactions between drivers and cars should mirror those between close friends who share a common purpose, sometimes watching over each other and sometimes helping each other out. Toyota refers to this approach as the Mobility Teammate Concept. Highway Teammate represents an important first effort to give form to this concept.

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Caltech, JPL designed megasupramolecule fuel additive reduces intensity of post-impact fuel explosions

October 02, 2015

Researchers at Caltech and JPL used statistical mechanics to design a polymeric fuel additive that can self-assemble into “megasupramolecules” (≥5000 kg/mol) at low concentration (≤0.3 weight percent) and thus can reduce the intensity of post-impact fuel explosions that occur during accidents and terrorist acts.

Furthermore, preliminary results show that the additive can provide this benefit without adversely affecting fuel performance. The work is published in the journal Science.

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Study comparing crash risk of EU and US vehicles indicates differences in performance

September 28, 2015

An international research study examining the safety performance of US and EU motor vehicles has found differences in performance between the two. The study is the first side-by-side comparison of predicted risk for EU-regulated and US-regulated vehicles and was conducted collaboratively by The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI); and Safer Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre at Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), in association with Centre Européen d’Etudes de Sécurité et d’Analyse des Risques (CEESAR), France, and Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), UK.

The investigation of safety performance was motivated by the ongoing negotiations between the EU and the US concerning the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement.

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10 automakers commit to making automatic emergency braking standard in US

September 11, 2015

Ten major vehicle manufacturers have committed to making automatic emergency braking (AEB) a standard feature on all new vehicles built, the US Department of Transportation, its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced today.

The announcement, made at the dedication of IIHS’s newly expanded Vehicle Research Center, represents a major step toward making crash-prevention technologies more widely available to consumers. The 10 companies—Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo—will work with IIHS and NHTSA in the coming months on the details of implementing their historic commitment, including the timeline for making AEB a standard feature. The Department and IIHS encourage all other light-vehicle and trucking manufacturers to bring automated vehicle technology to all vehicles on US roadways as soon as possible.

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