Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP have launched new “Assisted Driving Grading” assessments to give motorists insight into understanding how to use today’s assisted driving technology safely.
Many new vehicles feature assisted driving systems that have been developed to support the driver. According to Thatcham, however, there is significant potential for car companies to overstate the capability of their current assisted driving technology and for motorists to misuse it, with confusion around the limitations of these systems resulting in serious road collisions and deaths.
Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP say that they have now stepped in to bring clarity and understanding via the new Assisted Driving Grading programme.
“The systems that are currently allowed on our roads are there to assist the driver, but do not replace them,” said Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research. “Unfortunately, there are motorists that believe they can purchase a self-driving car today. This is a dangerous misconception that sees too much control handed to vehicles that are not ready to cope with all situations.
“Clarity is therefore required to make sure drivers understand the capability and performance of current assisted systems. It’s crucial today’s technology is adopted safely before we take the next step on the road to automation. There are safety and insurance implications that must be considered seriously.”
Under the Assisted Driving Grading programme, cars are tested across three performance criteria:
Vehicle Assistance: How effective are the speed assistance, steering assistance and adaptive cruise control systems which work together to control the vehicle’s speed and steering?
Driver Engagement: How accurate is the car company’s marketing material? How effectively does the car monitor the driver to ensure they are engaged with the driving process? How easy is it for the driver to interact with the assisted system? How clearly does the car communicate assisted status?
Safety Backup: How well does the car protect the driver in an emergency – this could be a system failure, when the driver becomes unresponsive, or if the car is about to collide with another vehicle? What happens when there is a loss of sensor input?
They are then awarded an overall rating:
Very good – more than 160 points
Good – more than 140 points
Moderate – more than 120 points
Entry – more than 100 points
“The best systems strike a good balance between the amount of assistance they give to the driver and how much they do to ensure drivers are engaged and aware of their responsibilities behind the wheel,” said Avery.