Developing Autonomous Vehicles — Will Slow and Steady Win the Race?
Advanced driver-assistance systems, or ADAS, have flooded the car market in recent years, giving automobiles the technological wherewithal to decrease operator error during dangerous situations on the road.
ADAS work to enhance and improve motorists’ reaction times via audible and visible signals and warnings that include everything from adaptive cruise control to lane-departure warnings.
“Some of these systems are built standard to certain vehicles, while aftermarket features and even entire systems are available to add at a later date to personalize the vehicle to the driver,” states a Car and Driver article titled “ADAS: Everything You Need to Know.” “Technological innovation and the explosion of automation initiatives have greatly increased the popularity of safety systems in vehicles. Most late-model vehicles have ADAS built into their original design and are updated as automobile manufacturers introduce new vehicle models and more features.”
The hardware and software that comprise ADAS are cutting-edge and constantly evolving.
“These systems use multiple data inputs to enable useful safety features,” the article states. “Some of these data sources include automotive imaging, which is a series of high-quality systems of sensors that mimic and exceed the capabilities of the human eye in terms of 360-degree coverage, 3D object resolution, high visibility in difficult weather and lighting situations and real-time data.”
In 2020 and beyond, ADAS become more important every day. Why? Because most accidents are attributable to those behind the wheel. So ADAS can reduce the number of accidents and therefore injuries and / or fatalities by lending an artificial-intelligence hand.
“These advanced safety systems were developed to automate and enhance aspects of the driving experience to increase safety and safe driving habits,” the article states. “The entire purpose of these safety systems is to increase road safety, reducing vehicular injuries by decreasing the overall number of traffic accidents. They also limit the number of insurance claims due to minor accidents in which there is property damage but no injuries.”
It sounds perfect, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case. According to an AAA study, ADAS still are in their infancy and have a ways to go to prove their worth.
“AAA has repeatedly found that active driving assistance systems do not perform consistently, especially in real-word scenarios,” Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, said in a press release titled “AAA Finds Active Driving Assistance Systems Do Less to Assist Drivers and More to Interfere.” “Manufacturers need to work toward more dependable technology, including improving lane keeping assistance and providing more adequate alerts.”
The agency came to a “far from 100% reliable” conclusion as it pertains to ADAS by testing five vehicles in real-world conditions: a 2019 BMW X7, a 2019 Cadillac CT6, a 2019 Ford Edge, a 2020 Kia Telluride and a 2020 Subaru Outback.
“On public roadways, nearly three-quarters (73%) of errors involved instances of lane departure or erratic lane position,” according to the press release. “While AAA’s closed-course testing found that the systems performed mostly as expected, they were particularly challenged when approaching a simulated disabled vehicle. When encountering this test scenario, in aggregate, a collision occurred 66% of the time and the average impact speed was 25 mph.”
Further, AAA found that a telltale 12 percent of drivers trust ADAS.
“To increase consumer confidence in future automated vehicles, it is important that car manufacturers perfect functionality as much as possible – like active driving assistance systems available now – before deployment in a larger fleet of vehicles,” according to the press release. “AAA has met with industry leaders to provide insight from the testing experience and recommendations for improvement. The insights are also shared with AAA members and the public to inform their driving experiences and vehicle purchase decisions.”
A blog on The Truth About Cars Web site titled “Are Modern Driving Assistance Features Unreliable? AAA Researchers Say Yes.” recommends that manufacturers cool their jets in equipping their automobiles with ADAS until conditions improve.
“AAA wants the takeaway to be that these systems are still lacking across the board,” the blog reads.
Because ADAS is a precursor to autonomous vehicles, slow and steady ultimately wins the race.
ADAS “are all meant to be safe ways to provide consumers with a look at fully autonomous cars” and “ensure computers have all of the control to make roads safer,” according to a story on FutureCar.com titled “AAA Study Finds Modern Driver-Assist Systems Aren’t Reliable.” “Unfortunately, consumers won’t be interested in autonomous vehicles if they have a negative experience with early driver-assist systems.”
Only time will tell?