The Collapsible Crash Test Robot Car

A lot of modern cars come with
advanced driver assistance systems, things like adaptive cruise control that
keeps a safe distance from the car in front or automated emergency braking
to avoid collisions or lane assist, to… keep you in lane. Which is great, as long as the driver
knows the system’s limits. The worst modern car I’ve ever driven
came with adaptive cruise control
that turned itself off if you went under 20mph. So if the car in front slowed
down for a traffic jam, so would you, until you went under 20, at which point the car just
handed control off to you with a very quiet beep. And if you weren’t expecting that… This is the Global Vehicle Target and, as of this year, it is
part of the EuroNCAP standard on how to test the safety of
automated driving systems. But it isn’t just a static foam model. This base here is a robot platform
that goes up to 50mph, which means you can test safely with
both vehicles going at highway speed. Right, my turn in the passenger seat. I mean, of the real car, not this. This doesn’t have a passenger seat. – Thatcham Research is a not-for-profit
insurance-funded research centre. In about 2014, it became clear
that the next generation of technologies weren’t just going to look for
the rear end of the car, they were going to look
at the side of the car and even the front of the car. We’ve got to have a target that actually
looks like a three-dimensional car. The impactable bit,
the visual pieces of the car, are actually foam target blocks
which are assembled to look like a car and covered with a radar material. Generally, you can put
the target, from start, back together in about 15 to 20 minutes. And what we’ve done is
we’ve used test equipment that actually measures the radar
reflectivity of a real vehicle. So you get radar reflectivity of a wheel. And even the glass, the back of the vehicle,
has a certain radar signature. So it’s about putting radar reflectors and also radar-absorbent material
in the right place. So the brand-new tests that
we’re going to introduce in 2020 are what we call turn-across-path, where your vehicle is moving
in front of another vehicle and we want your vehicle to brake. We’re also developing junction tests where a vehicle moves
across your path laterally and therefore we need
to see the side of the vehicle. And we’re confident that if a
vehicle brakes for our target, it’ll brake for a real vehicle
in the real world. – This should stop in time? – Yes, yeah.
– OK. All right, let’s do it. [alarm chiming] [braking system rumbling]
– Whoa! First of all, that works. That’s good.
– Yep, we have stopped. – Oh, that made me feel so nervous. – It’s deliberately late and harsh. – Radars are very good at understanding
if something is moving. They can identify what it is. However, if you just come across
an object and it’s stationary, it’s much harder for the radar
to identify that that’s a vehicle. What’s the difficulty is understanding:
has the driver seen it? And what are the driver intentions? So if you’ve got a vehicle
that’s parked in front of you, it doesn’t want to warn you too early, because that’s gonna annoy the
driver and we don’t want that, because if your driver is annoyed, he’ll turn the system off. One of the problems vehicle
manufacturers have is there are not only differences
in the road infrastructure, but there’s actually
national characteristics. People in Germany tend to drive
slightly more aggressively. And, therefore, the
issue of false positives, it’s much more of an issue. Whereas the Swedes will tell
that they’re much more benign and, therefore, a vehicle
that’s just stationary, warning the driver won’t
really annoy him too much. – OK, so what happens if
we go slightly faster? – Well, we’ll try it, and
it should be, you know… We’ll do 40mph rather than 35. – All right. (Oh, I don’t like this.) I really don’t like this. [alarm chiming] [braking system rumbling]
– Ohhh! [alarm chiming] Does it slightly brake to warn you? – Yes.
– Yes. – You hope, with that little brake,
it’s enough for the driver to go, oh, this is…
something strange is happening, – Yeah, yeah.
– and do it themselves. – OK, yeah, that works. So does the target! – Yep, yeah. – Thank you very much to all
the team at Thatcham Research. Pull down the description
for more about them and their work. Wow! There is one tyre upright, just there.