Autonomous-Emergency-BrakingThe government may be pressing ahead with plans to put driverless cars on Britain’s roads in five months time, but before we focus on autonomous cars, another life-saving technology should be standardised, says research centre Thatcham – autonomous emergency braking.

If it were fitted to all new cars sold, more than 1200 lives could be saved in Britain alone over the next decade, said Thatcham Research chief exec Peter Shaw.

It’s thus a more immediate safety benefit for ministers to confirm financial incentives there first, he reckons. “The evidence from our testing is undeniable, and combined with a growing body of real world research and evidence, we firmly believe that AEB and other ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems) have a critical role to play in safer roads for the future.

“Fully driverless cars may take a while longer to gain widespread acceptance.”

This is because, added Shaw, fully driverless cars demand “a great deal more comprehensive testing and development before they can be made commercially available in the UK – or anywhere in the world”. The government’s 2015 plan aims to make Britain a centre of testing ands development for autonomous cars, not to make them showroom ready by January 2015: the safety benefits will take much longer to reach showrooms.

Don’t get carried away in the autonomous cars hoopla, is the organisation’s implicit message: autonomous braking is a safety advance that could start saving lives virtually overnight. Thatcham is one organisation that’s hoping to ensure this is not overlooked.