Above is a backside view of a target used to test an automatic emergency braking system which shows that it is substantial and designed to take a hit if or when the vehicle being tested hits the target. James Halderman photo

Reader questions how to test automatic braking system


Russ W. writes by email: “I have a 2016 Cadillac XTS platinum with front and rear automatic breaking. The rear works perfectly and has saved me a few times, and it’s a great feature. However, the front does not work and I have had it to the dealer numerous times; the dealer’s response is it works fine. When I request him to demonstrate that he says he cannot demonstrate it. If it works why can’t he demonstrate that?

I have also talked to the Detroit customer relations department and received the same answer; it works and it can’t be demonstrated. However, the Cadillac website has video of how it works and tells how good it is.

I have tried using a plastic trash can; all that happens is I just knock it over with no braking. I have tried numerous times using small cans as well as the big 60-gallon trash container on wheels each time I hit the container and no braking.

I still feel the dealer should be able to demonstrate the braking using a soft object trash can, cardboard box or something that GM has designed for testing or demonstrating. Please tell me how to test the front automatic braking.”

Halderman: What you are using as targets are too small. The “target” needs to be the size of a car. The camera has to see that the object could cause harm, so most “real” targets used for testing include an image of a car. The camera then can recognize it as another vehicle. There is a way to check it, but it might result in your car hitting something. In the tests with which I have been involved, a soft target is set up and the vehicle is driven toward it. Emergency braking will occur, but so late that the tires will usually lock up because the system waits until the last second. Place a mattress or something similar in an empty parking lot and try it. A warning: The front of your car may hit the mattress, but the car should stop.

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