2016 Chevrolet Malibu to feature low-cost pedestrian-avoidance system

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 24, 2015

The redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Malibu will be offered with a pedestrian-avoidance system. It features just a camera and software and is different from other crash-avoidance setups that incorporated a camera or sensors with radar. Because it is cheaper by a few hundred dollars, GM is able to offer this active-safety feature on mainstream vehicles that have lower prices.

In this system, a camera is set at the back of the windshield that detects pedestrians and alerts the driver of an impending collision. At the last second, the brakes are automatically applied to avoid a crash or at the very least, lessen its severity.

In an interview, John Capp, GM's director of global vehicle safety, said that this camera technology enables the company to install it on a greater number of vehicles. He added that the radar package may not be what everyone wants and so this gives consumers an option.

GM has yet to release the pricing details. It’s likely that information about the safety packages will come out in the next months. The next-gen Malibu will go on sale in the fourth quarter. In addition, the Cadillac CT6 sedan that starts selling early next year will also be getting the pedestrian-braking feature.

A demonstration was conducted by GM engineers for journalists. In numerous tests that had a boy dummy dart across the path of a 2016 Malibu, the car came to a halt instantly from a speed of about 15 mph. Engineers said that the system is being upgraded so that it can avoid or mitigate collisions with bicycles.

However, this feature has yet to be perfected. This is the camera that will also come to play in a feature named “city speed automatic front braking," which applies the brakes to reduce the impact of rear-end collisions or avoid it at slow speeds. It has not been announced yet where GM plans to offer this technology.

The downside to this camera-based system is that it isn’t as effective as those that use radar too. At 20 to 40 mph speeds, the system can mitigate but it won’t be able to avoid crashes. In higher speeds, it won’t be of much help in avoiding collisions. This is the same camera that GM used for a few years on numerous cars to deploy lane-departure warnings and forward-collisions alerts.

But because it costs lower, GM can offer active-safety features on even its most affordable vehicle, the Chevy Spark. The demonstration took place at GM’s new $14 million facility that’s meant for the development and testing of active safety systems.

The automaker said that for the 2016 model year, it will have 22 active safety systems available across its brands. Mark Reuss, the global product chief of GM, said that they’re currently developing systems that are the building blocks for future autonomous vehicles that can prevent crashes.

Press Release

GM Paving Way to Smarter and Safer Driving at All-New Active Safety Test Area

Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac will offer 22 different active safety technologies across their 2016 model year U.S. lineups, ranging from driver alerts to those that automatically intervene and assist the driver in critical situations.

Safety engineers will develop and test these and other safety technologies for products around the world at GM's new, 52-acre Active Safety Test Area at its Milford Proving Ground near Detroit. The $14 million facility officially opened Friday.

"Our comprehensive safety strategy of helping customers before, during and after a crash continues," said Jeff Boyer, vice president of GM Global Vehicle Safety. "GM historically has been a leader in the development and testing of safety technologies, and applying our deep knowledge and expertise to prevent crashes from happening in the first place."

Examples of available crash-avoidance technologies for 2016 GM models include:
- City Speed Front Automatic Braking: If the vehicle is traveling at a low speed and the system detects that a front-end collision situation is imminent while following a detected vehicle and the driver has not already applied the brakes, the system automatically applies brakes to help reduce the collision's severity. The system may even help avoid the collision at very low speeds.
- Front Pedestrian Braking: If the system detects that a pedestrian is directly ahead and a collision is imminent, and the driver has not already applied the brakes, the system alerts the driver and, if necessary, automatically applies the brakes to help reduce the collision's severity or avoid the collision.
- Rear Camera Mirror: Compared to a traditional inside rearview mirror, this rear view mirror display provides a wider, less obstructed field of view to assist when driving, changing lanes, and checking for vehicles and traffic conditions.
- Night Vision: Provides the driver an infrared night vision image of the area lit beyond the headlamps that highlights and provides alerts to detected pedestrians or large animals.
- Curb View Camera: When in Forward gear during low-speed maneuvering (e.g., parking), this system provides the driver a view of the scene immediately ahead of the vehicle on the vehicle's center stack display to help the driver avoid low-speed collisions into nearby objects, such as curbs, poles, and parked vehicles.
- "The technologies we are developing and testing at this facility are available to our customers across our GM brands," said Cynthia Bay, director of Active Safety Electronics and Controls. "Front Pedestrian Braking will be offered on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, and the lowest-priced Chevrolet we offer in the U.S. – the new 2016 Spark – has available Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Alert."

The new Active Safety Test Area concentrates the company's active safety testing into one, state-of-the-art site. It features:
- A 16-acre dynamics pad for testing a variety of robot-controlled and automated vehicles.
Highway simulation with six lanes, on/off ramps, controlled lighting and road signs that represent specifications around the world.
- A parking test area with different curb types and landscaping detection.
- Pedestrian test area with a 90-degree traffic intersection and specially designed rig for accurate dummy movement.
- Simulated tunnel with walls and posts.
- A building for observation, indoor testing, hoists for test preparation and a robotic control station.

Bay said the facility is ideal for testing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technologies, which will be standard on the 2017 Cadillac CTS.

"In addition to helping customers all over the world avoid crashes, many of the technologies we develop and test here are integral to our ongoing V2V communications work and even the development of future autonomous vehicles," she said.

The V2V dedicated short-range radio communication enables vehicles to "talk" to each other and exchange basic safety data such as speed, location and braking status. It complements existing safety components like radar, camera and ultrasonic sensors; some of the components rigorously tested at the new Active Safety Test Area facility, in a fast and efficient way.

The facility is also used to assess performance in regulatory and insurance industry consumer metric tests, such as those conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Euro New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and others.

"General Motors is committed to setting a new standard for global product safety, and developing vehicles that continue to provide leading safety technologies which can help drivers avoid crashes," said Boyer. "This facility will accelerate GM's development and testing of innovative safety technologies."

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.

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