Collision warning systems began to appear in top-of-the-line vehicles around 2003. By 2011, some collision mitigation features are becoming available on higher volume models. While the early technology focused on high-speed crashes, the latest innovations are designed to avoid collisions at low speeds – less than 21 mph for Volvo’s Pedestrian Detection system on the new S60, for example.

“Pedestrian detection until recently was only available as a feature of the latest night vision systems,” says ABI Research Principal Analyst David Alexander. “But now we are seeing lower-cost technology introduced that uses cameras and/or lidar sensors. We project that by 2016 the lower costs will play a big part in increasing volumes and push the global pedestrian detection market value to more than $17 B.”

For high-speed crash avoidance, the core component is still the radar sensor. With Freescale Semiconductor’s announcement in November 2010 that its Xtrinsic chipset is going into production, automotive radar sensors will start to benefit from the efficiency of the latest CMOS manufacturing techniques, and cost is expected to fall even as functionality is improved. Other suppliers are likely to follow.

“We also expect collision warning systems to become increasingly available and affordable on higher-volume models,” says Larry Fisher, NextGen Research Director. “The combination of adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation, which share some of the same components, is likely to be an attractive option.”

ABI Research still sees no government plans for financial incentives to encourage investment in active safety systems, but large sums ($7500 for a Nissan Leaf in the USA, for example) are being provided to promote electric vehicle technology. A subsidy of 5 to 10 percent of that amount would make a huge difference to the number of vehicles on the road with collision mitigation, which in a few years would probably result in a significant reduction in the overall number of traffic accidents.

ABI Research’s new “Collision Warning and Mitigation Systems” study provides an analysis of global market trends, cost and technological evaluations of different key components, and discussion of existing product announcements. System volume and value forecasts for installations are provided globally, by region, through 2016.

The report forms part of the firm’s Automotive Technology Research Service.