BMW X1’s Pedestrian Detection System Sent Crash Test Dummies ‘Airborne’

Four of 11 small SUVs got top marks in a new study evaluating their pedestrian crash avoidance systems.

Five others got advanced ratings.

But one, the 2018-19 BMW X1, which comes with the German automaker’s so-called Daytime Pedestrian Detection system, either didn’t brake at all, sending crash test dummies “airborne,” or did not slow fast enough to avoid hitting the dummies, according to a news release about the study.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety test results, announced Thursday, highlighted the achievements of the 2018-19 Honda CRV, 2019 Subaru Forester, 2019 Toyota RAV4 and the 2019 Volvo XC40 in securing the top, or superior, rating.

And it showcased those SUVs that managed the second-best, or advanced, rating, the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox, 2018-19 Hyundai Kona, 2019 Kia Sportage, 2018-19 Mazda CX-5 and 2019 Nissan Rogue.

But the study, with its inclusion of the X1, also demonstrated the apparent challenge for automakers as they grapple with a dramatic public health crisis — the thousands of pedestrian deaths every year in the United States.

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From IIHS:

In general, pedestrian detection systems use a forward-facing mono camera or stereo cameras mounted near the rearview mirror plus radar sensors in the vehicle’s front grille to continuously scan the roadway and horizon for pedestrians and, in some cases, bicyclists or animals, who might cross the vehicle’s travel path. Algorithms classify the objects as people, bicyclists or animals, predict their travel path and determine the vehicle’s speed in relation to them. If a collision is imminent, the system typically alerts the driver and can apply the brakes far faster than a human could react.

The pedestrian autobrake test is the fourth crash avoidance evaluation in the Institute’s quiver of safety tests. IIHS began rating front crash prevention systems in 2013, headlights in 2016, and rear crash prevention systems in 2018. Under the new program, vehicles rate as basic, advanced or superior, based on their ability to avoid or mitigate a crash with pedestrian dummies in three different test track scenarios run at different speeds. The Institute shared the test protocol with manufacturers in fall 2018.

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