The term Active Safety
can be used in two distinct ways.
The first, mainly used in the US, refers to safety systems that help avoid accidents, such as good steering and brakes. In this context, passive safety refers to features that help reduce the effects of an accident, such as seat belts, airbags and strong body structures. This use is essentially interchangeable with the terms primary and secondary safety that tend to be used in the UK.
However, Active Safety is increasingly being used to describe systems that use an understanding of the state of the vehicle to both avoid and minimise the effects of a crash. These include braking systems, like brake assist
Brake Assist is a generic term for an automobile braking technology that increases braking pressure in an emergency situation. The first application was developed jointly by Daimler-Benz and TRW/LucasVarity...
, traction control system
A traction control system , also known as anti-slip regulation , is typically a secondary function of the anti-lock braking system on production motor vehicles, designed to prevent loss of traction of driven road wheels...
s and electronic stability control systems, that interpret signals from various sensors to help the driver control the vehicle.
Additionally, forward-looking, sensor-based systems such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, or ADAS, are systems to help the driver in its driving process. When designed with a safe Human-Machine Interface it should increase car safety and more generally road safety.Examples of such a system are:...
including adaptive cruise control and collision warning/avoidance/mitigation systems are also considered as active safety systems under this definition.
These forward-looking technologies are expected to play an increasing role in collision avoidance and mitigation in the future. Most major component suppliers, such as Delphi, TRW and Bosch, are developing such systems. However, as they become more sophisticated, questions will need to be addressed regarding driver autonomy and at what point these systems should intervene if they believe a crash is likely.