Automatic Emergency Braking
AKA: Active Brake Assist, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Forward Automatic Braking, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Forward Collision Mitigation, Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Intelligent Brake Assist, Pre-Collision Assist, Pre-Collision System, Pre-Safe Brake; Smart Brake Support
By 2022, more than 95 percent of cars available in the United States will have automatic emergency braking. The system uses either radar or a combination of radar and cameras to detect potential obstacles ahead of you and apply the brakes. But not all these systems are created equal. "Some are designed to do everything within the laws of physics to stop your car," says Greg Brannon, director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations at AAA National. "Others are designed just to mitigate the collision."
What's more, while some systems can only detect other vehicles in your path, others are capable of responding to cyclists, pedestrians, and animals. In all cases, these systems respond best to objects in motion; they are not good at responding to, say, a lamppost or a mailbox. And in no case are they meant to do all the braking for you. "You should not be relying on these systems to stop your car," Brannon says. "They are meant to be a backstop for drivers engaged in the task of driving."
Lane Keeping Assistance
AKA: Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Steering Assist, Intelligent Lane Intervention, Lane Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Keeping Aid, Lane Keeping System, LaneSense
In 2018, about 14 percent of new cars nationwide had some form of lane keeping assistance. The technology uses camera-based sensors to detect lane markings. If it "sees" that you're drifting unintentionally out of your lane, it springs into action. Some versions steer your vehicle back to center when they sense you're about to cross a line. Others try to keep you centered in your lane at all times (which can lead to a disconcerting ping-pong effect). The systems are smart enough not to intervene when you're purposely changing lanes.
Because lane keeping assistance relies on cameras, it is less effective at night. Add rain or snow to low-light conditions, and the system may cease to function altogether, Brannon says. More importantly, the technology isn't meant to do the steering for you, and it's certainly not infallible. It does not work well in construction zones or on other stretches of road where the lane markings are unclear or shift suddenly. "Don't get lulled into a false sense of security," Brannon says. "Lane keeping assistance doesn't mean you have a self-driving car."