Self-Driving Autos Take Los Angeles by Storm

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Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California

In today’s climate of rapid technological advancement, it should come as no surprise that some late model automobiles seem to virtually drive themselves.

Beginning Wednesday, November 20 and 21, with press days, and continuing from November 22 through December 1, the 2013 LA Auto Show will feature the most innovative automobile and technological designs imaginable.

If you look carefully, amid the beautiful concept cars and worldwide vehicle debuts, you may also find safety enhancements which are so modern that the vehicles themselves seem to protect the driver.

Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW, Volvo, and Cadillac all spend millions of dollars, annually, in research and development to improve vehicle safety. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet, and Subaru realize the importance of protecting vehicle occupants and that is why every, single one of these automakers offer Lane Departure Warning Systems (LDWS), Automated Cruise Control Systems (ACCS), and Collision Mitigated Braking Systems (CMBS) on the vehicles they produce.

Collision Mitigated Braking System

The mitigated, or automated, braking system has been in use, to some degree, since around 2003.

Although for many years this type of feature was reserved as an optional upgrade on high-end vehicles, many commercial and even economy and compact vehicles are now being sold with CMBS as standard equipment. As a point of fact, the European Union has already implemented legislation to assure that all new commercial vehicles sold after November 1, 2013 will be equipped with some type of CMBS and that all new vehicles, sold after November 1, 2015 will be equipped with CMBS.

The CMBS uses radar sensors in the front of the vehicle to determine the distance of oncoming vehicles and other objects. If the CMBS determines that a collision is imminent; it then uses this data, in correlation with vehicle speed, to calculate the severity and estimated timing of a frontal collision.

Typical CMBS operation is as follows:

  • First Warning — An audible and visual warning is activated in the instrument panel. The windows and sunroof are closed and seat belt tension is increased; emergency flashers could also be activated. The first warning is designed to capture the driver’s attention, so that the proper driving maneuver may be performed, manually.


  • Second Warning — If the first warning level has been disregarded by the vehicle operator, then automated braking measures will be induced. Light brake pressure will be applied, sufficient to get the drivers attention and slow the vehicle minimally.


  • Third Warning — The third warning begins to apply the vehicle brakes at a more aggressive rate. The CMBS has assumed that an emergency situation has occurred and necessary measures must be taken to avoid a potential collision. Some vehicle makes will also decrease throttle percentage gradually in this phase; eventually bringing the engine RPM level to an idling state.


  • Fourth Warning — Milliseconds before projected impact the CMBS will apply full braking pressure, in an effort to lessen the severity of the crash. Most models also feature a fuel shutoff if an actual collision is detected and airbags deploy.


Although this incredible design seems space-aged and the vehicles seem to be able to drive themselves, take note: The nature of this cutting edge design is that of driver assistance, and not driver replacement. Regardless of how futuristic the CMBS may appear, manufacturers recommend that an alert, licensed, human driver remain in control of the vehicle at all times.

S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.