Nissan LEAF will automatically brake to avoid hitting cyclists

Latest generation of the bestselling all-electric car in the world

When the first generation of the Nissan LEAF was introduced in 2011, it was the first all-electric car to be rated the maximum score of 5 stars by Euro NCAP.  With consumers turning away from conventional engines, and car manufacturers investing heavily in electric and hybrid vehicles, it is crucial that advancements in safety are not compromised by new powertrain systems.

The second generation of the LEAF, which is the world’s bestselling all-electric car, also scores 5 star and comes with many new safety features. It demonstrates that environmental friendliness need not come at the expense of improved safety – the safety of those inside the car and those who share road-space with it.

It is also the first car to be assessed against Euro NCAP’s improved and extended protocols for 2018.  As road casualty numbers plateau, more action is needed to ensure that new vehicles offer the latest and best safety technology. For this reason, 2018 sees the introduction of a number of new tests in Euro NCAP’s assessments, addressing key crash scenarios involving cars, pedestrians and now also the growing number of cyclists.

Euro NCAP testing of AEB for cyclists technology on a Volkswagen model.

A highlight of the assessment of the latest LEAF (which will be made available in Malaysia through Edaran Tan Chong Motor) is its cyclist-detection with auto brake technology which is tested by Euro NCAP for the first time. It is included with AEB Pedestrian in a new designation called AEB Vulnerable Road Users (AEB VRU).

Detecting cyclists presents new challenges to car manufacturers, both from a hardware and a software perspective. The image analysis be able to identify the shape of a cyclist from the front, side and rear (which differs from a human walking).

Furthermore, the sensors must also have a wide angle of view to detect fast-moving cyclists in good time. Complex algorithms are needed to ensure correct identification of potential collision threats while avoiding false activations.

“It was the drive to save cyclists’ lives which inspired the Dutch government to fund a major project which led to the development of a protocol for detecting cyclists. We are honoured that Euro NCAP has decided to add this protocol to their rating scheme. This first Euro NCAP release of an AEB-Cyclist-equipped vehicle shows what the joint efforts of governments and cyclists’ associations can achieve in collaboration with Euro NCAP,” said Robbert Verweij, Euro NCAP Board member and Senior Policy Advisor at the Dutch Ministry of Transport.

Other rating updates for 2018 include testing of pedestrian detection in darkness and obscure lighting conditions to ensure these systems work at all times. Emergency Lane Keeping systems are the newest generation of intelligent lane support systems that autonomously take evasive action if the car is in danger of leaving the road or of colliding with another vehicle.

New Euro NCAP tests verify that the system reacts to a road edge, marked and unmarked, to ensure the car does not run off-road; that the car returns safely to its lane when an overtaking manoeuvre is attempted and an oncoming vehicle is detected; and that the car is prevented from inadvertently steering into the path of a vehicle which is overtaking in an adjacent lane.

“Our new assessments demonstrate the increasing level of sophistication that can be achieved by connecting various sensor systems installed on the vehicle. As the cost of these systems drops and computing capabilities increase, standard vehicles will soon become able to help prevent significantly more complex real-life crashes,” said Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary-General of Euro NCAP.

He added that Euro NCAP seeks to encourage this trend and in the context of a safe systems approach, will continue to challenge automakers to deliver the highest levels of safety performance as standard, for car occupants and vulnerable road-users.

Click here to read other news and articles about Euro NCAP.

[Chips Yap]