Watching this video, there is no doubt that the events on this busy highway in Bologna, Italy make the case for safety systems irrefutable. There can be no doubt that autonomous emergency braking (AEB) would have saved lives and prevented this disaster from occurring.
The fact is, we now have the technology to prevent an incident which is both deadly and has disastrous consequences. That technology is now appearing in new trucks and has transitioned across from an expensive option to something fitted as standard on just about every new truck on the market.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I had my first experience of this technology, over 14 years ago at an ‘Active Safety Experience’ in 2007. I ended up behind the wheel of an Actros, driving down the straight at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney. the instructions were to simply stay behind the test car at a set speed and do nothing else. It was eerie knowing the car was going to suddenly brake and I was had to trust the system, just wait for the truck to react.
When the car did finally brake, I didn’t have to wait long, it was extremely surprising how quickly the automatic braking system reacted and there was never any uneasy feeling that the truck would not pull up. It all felt perfectly normal and safe, which was surprising after the trepidation with which I approached the experience.
The response from the system was so much quicker than the quickest human could manage. The braking system reacts, literally, at the speed of light. The radar detected the slowing of the car instantly, the system analysed the relative speeds of the two vehicles, instantly, and the EBS activated the brakes instantly. All of this occurred before I would have had time to react
It was at that point I suddenly understood the power of this type of technology and saw it, not as a another gadget, but as a vital element in modern truck design.