Though for many of us it may feel like we have always had modern vehicles, the history is actually not that old. Each year has seen a dramatic increase in technology due to innovation, regulations, racing, and even war. We as consumers have come to expect the best in comfort and performance from our daily drivers too. And when we say performance, it is not only the engine’s output or the car’s handling that we are talking about. It covers the safety features, the infotainment systems, the assisted driving systems, and so on.
Certain features like parking assistance and navigation systems are a big part of cars today. These features are utilized often by many drivers. GPS has replaced using maps and asking a stranger for directions. Parking assist has made it easier for van drivers to be aware of potential issues in blind spots. In the beginning they were not as sophisticated and have come to be very reliable. Now we find ourselves in the next stage of autonomous driver assistance where more focus has been placed on safety. Unfortunately it seems that we are still a way from having this perfected. Let’s jump into a little bit more about driving assistance tech and why advanced driving assistance continues to underperform according to AAA.
What is Advanced Driving Assistance Technology?
Advanced Driving Assistance Systems known as ADAS is driving assistance technology that is designed to lower collision rates and improve seamless traffic flow. These systems involve a bunch of different technologies such as LIDAR, Radar, Ultrasound, and cameras. In conjunction they offer the following:
- Pedestrian detection
- Lane departure warning
- Traffic sign recognition
- Automatic emergency braking
- Blind spot detection
- Navigation systems
- Night vision
- Crosswind stabilization
- Driver monitoring system
- Adaptive light control
- Adaptive cruise control
- Automatic parking
- Automatic valet parking
All running multiple vision-based algorithms and analyzing data to provide the safety systems with accurate and actionable information. The importance of their development is quite high. Seeing as the majority of accidents on the road are caused due to human error, it stands to reason that reliable autonomous driving assistance technology will be needed to reduce collisions and save lives.
So there is denying that ADAS is beneficial to drivers, passengers and pedestrians. We know that it will make a difference in safety but it also brings with it heavier and more electronic components in vehicles. The trade off is having less capability of potting around with your car and better safety systems.
Why Is ADAS Still Underperforming?
AAA researchers conducted tests one vehicles with advanced driving technology. Specifically ones relating to “relating to maintaining lane position, forward speed, and following distance from the vehicle within the same lane.” The cars they tested included:
- 2021 Subaru Forester with “EyeSight®”
- 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe with “Highway Driving Assist”
- 2020 Tesla Model 3 with “Autopilot”
The researchers at AAA found the results to be rather mixed and only show that we are not quite there when it comes to safety assistance technology in vehicles. The test took place in a closed course and consisted of a bicyclist dummy on a bicycle crossing the road and a foam car over the traffic line and stationary.
The vehicles all hit the foam car head-on when tested. Though one vehicle slowed more than the others, it still collided with the foam car that was in its traffic lane. When it came to the bicyclist, they found that a collision occurred 33% of the time. That is 5 out of 15 test runs. The cameras used by ADAS also struggle to function in gloomy weather, especially if it is raining. One positive outcome of the tests was that the researchers found that the advanced driving assistance systems successfully detected and braked when approaching a slower-moving vehicle or bicyclist.
According to AAA, vehicles with assistance driving technology will be important to the future of vehicles. However, at this stage we see that these systems are not quite up to the standard just yet. Along with that there is a growing stigma about autonomous vehicles or even autonomous systems that kick in during an emergency. Through education and innovation a future for autonomous vehicle systems will be possible. Perhaps even become the norm one day.
What does the Future Hold for ADAS?
As mentioned, research and development put into advanced driving systems has been great. Advancement in driving technology continues to impress. Even though ADAS is not perfect right now, it has promise.
Improving driving assistance systems with an aim for consistency will be a good step into the right direction for many vehicle manufacturers. Other improvements could be made in the cameras and finding ways of keeping the driver engaged while driving. As a driver it may be wise to understand how each of these systems work before you incorporate them into your regular driving routine.
The future is a bright one. All tech have a rocky start in the beginning and need a little time to fine tune. Power steering is a prime example. Before power steering was the standard in cars most people just got used to large steering wheels, wide turning angles, and many 3-point turns. Eventually power steering started to make its rounds on the automotive market. Enough research and development was put into it for it to become a standard on all vehicles. Something we take as a given today. Safety belts are another great piece of technology that changed safety in vehicles. In its debut it was groundbreaking, it saved lives. Today ADAS is no different. It is an advancement of what has already been. We are simply in the beginning stages of what is clearly a remarkable future for the automotive industry.
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