Infiniti’s Latest Safety System Watches Your Back
Back-up Collision Intervention on the 2013 JX puts the brakes on backing into something -- or someone.
Infiniti has developed more active safety systems than probably any other automaker -- and also has the most abbreviations for them: LDW (Lane Departure Warning); LDP (Lane Departure Prevention); BSW (Blind Spot Warning); FCW (Forward Collision Warning); DCA (Distance Control Assist); IBA (Intelligent Brake Assist); and AVM (Around View Monitor).
Back-up Collision Intervention (BCI) and Moving Object Detection (MOD) add to this alphabet soup on the all-new 2013 Infiniti JX, and also represent the next evolutionary step in safety features such as rearview cameras and sensors that are designed to prevent backing into something or someone. While technologies like MOD have been around awhile, BCI is brand-new.
The system uses radar and sonar to sniff out objects behind the vehicle as well as anything coming at it from the sides -- such as a bus when blindly backing out of a parking spot. If it senses something in the way, like other such systems it emits audible and visual warnings. But BCI goes a step further by applying upward pressure on the accelerator (taking a page from Infiniti’s Eco Pedal feature) and automatically applying the brakes so the vehicle stops before bashing into whatever is behind it.
I got a chance to try it out last week at an Infiniti press preview of the 2013 JX. A golf cart was positioned behind a JX, and journalists were instructed to back into it to test the system. I’ve tried similar systems, including Volvo'sCity Safety and Pedestrian Detection -- usually with some object standing in for a real car or person, but in front of the vehicles. And even when you know that the system will stop the car for you, it’s still a big mental leap to not hit the brakes before impact and to just let technology take over for you.
The system worked as promised, as you can see in the videos below. I got a sneak peek at BCI at the Nissan Technical Center outside of Detroit about two years ago, when it was still in the prototype stage. An engineer there had so much confidence in the system that he essentially dared me to run him over as he walked behind an Infiniti FX test vehicle. When I accepted the challenge, the car came to a dead stop after detecting his presence. Infiniti representatives at the press preview last week wouldn’t let us test the system with humans, saying something about liability and lawyers.
Some think that active safety systems like BCI that take control from the driver lead to people become lazy behind the wheel, expecting that a technological safety net will take over for them. This may be true, but it’s also true that not everyone on the road is a safe driver and that some people need all the help they can get.
Anything that can reduce traffic accidents and, particularly, injuries and fatalities is a good thing – even if it’s in a driveway or parking lot rather than on the road. According to the nonprofit Kidsandcars.org, at least 50 children each week in the U.S. are backed over by vehicles, with 48 treated in hospital emergency rooms and at least two fatally injured. The federal government is close to mandating rearview cameras on every vehicle sold in the U.S.
For some, the $2,200 for the Driver Assistance Package option on the 2012 Infiniti JX, which includes Backup Collision Intervention, may be well worth saving a life – or at least saving repair costs from a fender-bender.
Doug Newcomb has been covering car technology for more than 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and car technology, especially driving and listening to music.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at firstname.lastname@example.org.