Confusion around Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems

25th January 2019

ADAS confusionADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) are systems to help drivers in the driving process. They are intended to increase vehicle and road safety by means of a human-machine interface. However experts are concerned that the hype surrounding automated driving is confusing to drivers and could be dangerous.

Confusion regarding ADAS

As many as one in five Brits are confused about ADAS-equipped vehicles, thinking that this means they are self-driving. There are currently cars on the market that are able to provide driver assistance but this is different from automated driving.

Evidence released by Thatcham Research suggests that drivers are receiving “dangerous” false impressions regarding what recent ADAS-equipped vehicles are capable of.

Confusion was identified by the British safety and crash testing body together with Euro NCAP when they together tested ten vehicles that were equipped with common systems that are standard on many vehicles these days. These included autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist systems. It was claimed that seventy one percent of motorists internationally and fifty three percent in the UK are under the impression that they can buy a fully self-driving vehicle today. It was also found that eighteen percent of British drivers believed that if a car has automatic steering, braking and acceleration, they can “sit back and relax and let the car do the driving”.

In fact there is no vehicle currently on the market that offers full autonomy or automation and Thatcham say that the terminology used by car manufacturers is compounding the misinformation, including terms such as “semi-autonomous” and “self-driving”.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research believes that some carmakers are designing and marketing vehicles in such a way that drivers believe they can relinquish control.
They marketing their cars in this way to gain a competitive edge but it is leading to confusion.

ADAS and safety concerns

Technology should be supporting the driver, but shouldn’t be relied upon to the extent that the attention of the driver is compromised. Michiel van Ratingen, the secretary general at Euro NCAP, says: “Euro NCAP’s message from these tests is clear – cars, even those with advanced driver assistance systems, need a vigilant, attentive driver behind the wheel at all times.”

“It is imperative that state-of-the-art passive and active safety systems remain available in the background as a vital safety backup.”

Matthew Avery agrees that it’s a fine line for car manufacturers. “Offer too much assistance to the driver and they disengage, offer too little and the driver thinks ‘what’s the point?’ and switches the system off.”

“The best systems are those that support the driver but leave them in no doubt that they remain in control.”

Since these findings were published, Volvo has said that it will stop using the terminology “semi-autonomous” in its marketing efforts. Nissan has also confirmed that it will refrain from using words like “autonomous” and “automated” and begin calling these features “assist systems” instead.

Using ADAS-equipped cars

Driving support technologies are becoming widespread, even in everyday vehicles, but it’s important to remember that these systems are designed to assist you in your driving, not to take control. As the driver of a vehicle you are still expected to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road at all times. Vehicle safety and safe driving are a combination that should always go together.