What is AEB?

Most manufacturers use this type of system, and it can save your life - but what is AEB?

BuyaCar team
Feb 28, 2020

The technology of car safety is constantly evolving and each year we see new innovations designed to keep drivers, their passengers and pedestrians safe. Over the years we've seen the introduction of physical protection such as seat belts and airbags which are designed to help in the event of an accident, but nowadays the innovations are tending to be more focussed around clever technology designed to reduce the risk of accidents happening in the first place.

One of these innovations is Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), which is computer system designed to constantly monitor the space ahead of the car and sense any impending obstacles. If the system senses that an impact with a hazard is about to occur, it will apply the brakes for you. It's all in the name really, so let's break it down.

Autonomous - the system acts without the input of the driver.
Emergency - it will only intervene when it deems that you’re on course for a crash.
Braking - the system will apply the brakes.

This clever and extremely useful technology is slowly making its way into cars up and down the market, and pretty soon you can expect every new car to be offering AEB alongside other cutting edge safety tech. Read on for more details on Autonomous Emergency Braking, how it works, and which cars come with it equipped.

Why buy a car with AEB?

AEB can act as a safety net in an emergency. You might think that you’ll never need it, but there are often factors outside of your control that can affect your judgement. The car manufacturers site poor visibility and even glare from sunshine as a major reason for the take-up of AEB systems in their cars.

Of course, AEB systems are not fool-proof, and no car makers are saying that it will stop all accidents. But it has been scientifically proven to assist in avoiding accidents, as well as reducing the severity of them.

How does AEB work?

AEB systems use a selection of devices to essentially ‘read’ the road ahead. Most use a radar system teamed with a front facing camera, usually attached to the nose of a car.

From behind the wheel, generally, the first sign of the system working will be an on-screen prompt via the dashboard, alerting you to the fact that it thinks you’re about to have a crash. If you don’t use the brakes or use the steering wheel, the car will apply its brakes.

Braking power and ferocity varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and some of them will deactivate once you use the brakes.

Obviously manufacturers, along with safety experts, do not recommend using AEB instead of your own right foot. AEB doesn’t kick in until the very last moment, and it’s a strong and harsh system that you wouldn’t want to use every day.

In general, the more expensive systems work up to a higher speed than cheaper systems. Most accidents occur in city driving at around 12-15mph and most AEB systems work at up to 25mph, but some work at motorway speeds too.

AEB Safety testing

Euro NCAP is a safety assessment program that every new car in Europe has to be put through. It awards cars on a star-based system, the safest cars get five stars, the most unsafe get zero.

Not only do AEB systems make a car safer for the occupants, but it’s proven to make them much safer for pedestrians. Pedestrians and cyclists account for 30% of all fatalities in the EU every year. Because of this, pedestrian and cyclist safety is a growing concern for Euro NCAP.

One of the criterias on which new cars are assessed is a pedestrian test. This is designed to check how well pedestrian-detection systems work. The tests represent common situations that cause pedestrian casualties. In these simulations, generally, when an AEB system is used, accidents that would normally result in a fatal collision can be avoided.

Safest cars in 2019 according to Euro NCAP

AEB benefits

It’s a life-saving piece of technology, and a safety net for a situation that might leave you momentarily distracted behind the wheel. Generally, it makes cars safer. Better for you, and better for pedestrians. But it also makes insurance cheaper. A recent study by Thatcham Research found that cars fitted with AEB systems were £80 a year cheaper to insure than the same car without the system. The savings can be even more for younger and less experienced drivers.

AEB drawbacks

Obviously, the safety benefits far outweigh the drawbacks of such systems. However, if you’re the type of person that doesn’t like electronic systems interfering with your driving, AEB might irk you.

Each manufacturer's system works differently, and some don’t like you getting too close to the car in front during motorway driving. Cheaper systems can get confused between pedestrians and other cars in traffic.

Which cars have AEB?

Here we have a list of every car currently sold with Autonomous Emergency Braking as standard according to Euro NCAP. The technology has been available since 2018, and those initial cars have been marked on the list, while every other model will be from 2019.


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