eCall is an in-vehicle system which immediately alerts the emergency services of a collision. After being triggered by the car’s airbag sensors it will transmit the exact location of the incident and allow voice communication with a safety operator. We developed proposals for European type-approval tests to ensure that all systems on the market work safely even after a severe collision.

2018 eCall will be mandatory equipment in new cars and vans
emergency response times could be reduced by
lives could be saved a year

The challenge

Before a car is allowed onto the market in Europe it has to pass certain type approval safety tests, which will also require an eCall system from 2018. We were commissioned by the European Commission to develop draft proposals for the detailed technical requirements and test procedures for these eCall in-vehicle systems. This comprised seven technical aspects, including a test to verify that common collision types are detected automatically and a test of the system’s mechanical resistance to ensure that eCall still works after a severe collision.

Our approach

We completed a comprehensive review of relevant existing legislative proposals and technical standards in Europe, Russia and internationally under the United Nations framework.

We used TRL’s Road Accident in-depth Studies (RAIDS) database to analyse real-world crash information, to understand the effect of different automatic triggering criteria in an eCall system.

We designed and performed a mechanical resistance test programme using our in-house deceleration sled, where we tested eCall development units up to levels of 100 g. This is a very high level, exceeding current regulatory tests.

The results

Based on our technical assessment, discussions with other experts and stakeholders, accident data analysis and physical deceleration testing, we have made recommendations to  the European Commission on the safety requirements and tests that eCall systems should meet in preparation of the mandatory European roll-out of eCall systems in 2018. These draft proposals seek to set minimum standards for eCall systems in Europe to ensure that all systems work as intended even after a vehicle was involved in a severe collision.

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