How Does a Collision Avoidance System Work?

How Does a Collision Avoidance System Work?

Safety features on vehicles have made significant strides in the last decade or so. From forward- and rear-mounted cameras to radar and automatic braking systems, collision avoidance technology has evolved to decrease the odds of accidents occurring while on the road.

Many systems use radar and cameras to monitor the road and either warn the driver of danger or take control of the vehicle, such as with automatic cruise control and automated braking systems. In the case of the RD-140 system from Safe Drive Systems, a combination of radar signals and camera monitoring give the driver advance warning of dangerous situations.

But how does this system work? It all has to do with echoes.

Radar Monitoring

Think a moment about yodeling. Up in the mountains, sound waves from a yodeler’s mouth will bounce around from surface to surface, creating an echo. Often, the yodeler can hear these echoes herself, which indicates that the sound waves have been bounced back to her ears. Some echoes may come back a bit later than others, indicating that they were reflected from more distant mountain faces.

Radar works on the same principle as yodeling in the mountains, except instead of using sound waves, modern systems use radio waves, which move much faster. The radar unit sends out waves that bounce off of surfaces (cars, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians, etc.) and return back to the vehicle’s forward-mounted sensor.

As fast as these radio waves are, they still take a little bit of time to travel from one place to another, so the collision avoidance system can use the time it takes for the waves to bounce back to calculate distance—in this case, the distance from your car to whatever is in front of it. This allows the system to give you a visual (flashing lights) and audible (beeping alarm) warning signal if you are getting too close to something ahead of you.

On the RD-140 system specifically, radar pings are sent 20 times per second, allowing it to warn you of split-second changes in traffic.

Camera-Based Lane Monitoring

The RD-140 system also includes a camera that is used for lane monitoring. This camera records the road, monitoring the location of the lanes. The system is able to interpret the visual data to detect where the lane markings are and when lane departure may occur. If it looks like you are about to drift out of your lane, the system will give you a visual and audible warning signal.


The purpose of the RD-140 collision avoidance system is to give the driver advanced warning when a crash or lane departure appears to be imminent. This helps the driver be more attentive to the road, react sooner to dangerous situations, and have added peace of mind while operating a vehicle, especially at high speeds. Also, since the RD-140 uses modern radar technology, it will function reliably in any weather conditions, making driving in fog or rain less risky.

In order to learn more about the technologies offered and how they protect drivers, contact Safe Drive Systems today.