How dummy pedestrians help test car safety systems
- AB Dynamics develops products to help manufacturers test advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like automatic braking or lane keeping.
- They created the Soft Pedestrian Target, or SPT, a moving dummy with the radar signature of a person.
- Tests with the SPT verify modern cars can detect and evade pedestrians. Watch the video above to see the SPT in action.
AB Dynamics employs many tools to test advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) according to rigorous standards by automotive safety agencies like Euro NCAP and NHTSA. One tool is the Soft Pedestrian Target, or SPT, that simulates a pedestrian in a real-world environment.
Following is a transcript of the video:
Narrator: These biking, strolling, rolling dummies take the hits so you don't have to. They exist to make sure the pedestrian avoidance systems in today's modern cars work. That is, when a kid runs out into the street from behind a car or a cyclist pedals into a blind spot unseen, the car takes notice and intervenes, braking or evading suddenly, likely saving the life of the pedestrian you failed to notice. You can trust your car will do the right thing when the moment comes because, before you took the wheel, it may have already avoided hundreds of kids and dozens of cyclists - those human-like dummies clad in blue pants indifferent to the cars barreling in their direction.
How dummy pedestrians help test car safety systems.
Narrator: Advanced driver assistance systems. ADAS. They're the technology that enables your car to brake, change lanes, or swerve around obstacles for you in emergency situations, and they're made by different companies and operate to different results. That's why organizations like the European New Car Assessment Programme and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States impose rules that all manufacturers have to stick to on their ADAS tests. The rules demand a very specific speed, impact location, and lighting condition among other specifications. That's where the Soft Pedestrian Target, or SPT, comes in. The pedestrian target sits on a robust pad or platform. The pad carries a control system that, among other things, synchronizes the pedestrian with the test vehicle, meaning that, in 100 tests, the pedestrian would arrive at the same place in front of the car at the right time at the right speed at the right angle, every single time. When the vehicle is at the correct distance from the impact point, the Soft Pedestrian Target system initiates the movement of the platform. The pedestrian target enables manufacturers to reliably comply with highly specific testing protocols repeatedly.
This is James Buck. He's a senior project engineer at AB Dynamics. He walked us through a test scenario using the SPT system.
James Buck: The test being shown here is as described in the 2018 Euro NCAP Vulnerable Road User test protocol whereby the subject vehicle is driving and a child suddenly runs out from behind two parked cars. This test determines whether the vehicle's ADAS system reacts quickly enough to avoid hitting the child.
Narrator: For this scenario, the Soft Pedestrian Target is set to run perpendicular to the subject vehicle.
Buck: Since the Euro NCAP protocol requires the subject vehicle to be driven in a very specific manner, you need a driving robot to ensure that the path following and the speed of the vehicle remains in tolerance. The driver in the subject vehicle has now activated the robots, and the vehicle is following the specified path and speed profile. When the vehicle is at the correct distance from the impact point, the Soft Pedestrian Target system initiates the movement of the platform. This automatic triggering guarantees that the impact point is as described in the protocol, that is unless the vehicle breaks automatically to avoid the dummy. In this example, we have disabled the ADAS systems in the vehicle such that the vehicle will strike the target.
Narrator: The contribution these dummies make to keeping our pedestrians safe is clear.
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