AEB. Automatic Emergency Braking.

New technology on some late model automobiles is aiming to take delayed braking response time out of the driver’s hands… or feet, rather. If the driver is braking, and then the car does its own braking, then that’s a lot of braking wearing down all kinds of car parts. Do you know what radar is? Yeah, yeah, it’s the thing that bounces radio waves off another thing and then back, and then measures the time for the waves to make the round trip, and then determines how far away the other thing is… Good.

Google’s professional dictionary coins “radar” as a “system for detecting the presence, direction, distance, and speed of aircraft, ships, and other objects, by sending out pulses of high-frequency electromagnetic waves that are reflected off the object back to the source”… So, yes radio waves are one such “electromagnetic” wave. Anyway, we’re talking about cars here! Robot cars of the future! In the present! Radar cars!

CBS News ran a bit on the allure of this new feature on the “new car buyer”. As one of the newer safety features for car companies to equip, it surprisingly has had little influence on the American consumer. Car shoppers are likely waiting for the feature to become standard, and not an additional purchase option. CBS spoke with Kelly Blue Book, who stated, “Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have grown increasingly dismayed at the lack of consumer interest in purchasing optional safety equipment despite its proven ability to save lives.”

Dismayed? Really? The National Highway Safety Administration is surprised that car buyers are more passionate about leather interiors and grill insignias, than they are about new brakes??

“Hey Mrs. Upper-middleclass-stay-at-home-yoga-mom! Which car would you like to test drive: a new Nissan Pathfinder with stock AEB, or a new BMW X3 suv without AEB? They’re both selling in the low $40,000’s…”

Our consumer culture isn’t going to be distracted by expensive safety features that are likely to be “stock” in the coming years. Comfort and appearance will come out on top of “new brakes” all day long. Fashion over function.