Thursday, April 25, 2024
News80% of Partial Driving Automation Systems Tested By IIHS Rated Poor

80% of Partial Driving Automation Systems Tested By IIHS Rated Poor

Recent Safety Ratings Highlight the Need for Enhanced Driver Safeguards in Automation Technology

The push towards partial to fully automated driving has experienced several highs and lows in recent years. The latest findings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) suggest that the road to fully reliable and safe automation is still under construction. The IIHS recently unveiled a new ratings program aimed at assessing the effectiveness of safeguards integrated into partial driving automation systems and the results could be characterized as lows. The initial testes were made on various automakers including BMW, Ford, General Motors, and Tesla, and the bottom line is that significant improvements are needed.


The IIHS’ evaluations covered 14 systems from various manufacturers, revealing a broad spectrum of performance with only Lexus’ Teammate system securing an ‘acceptable’ rating. The GMC Sierra and Nissan Ariya’s systems found themselves in the ‘marginal’ category, while the majority, including systems from Ford, Genesis, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla, were deemed ‘poor’. This grading reflects the systems’ capabilities in ensuring driver engagement and preventing misuse, crucial factors in maintaining road safety.

Cadillac Super Cruise | Photo: GM

David Harkey, President of IIHS, voiced concerns over the current state of partial automation systems, noting their insufficiency in deterring misuse and maintaining driver focus. This is especially pertinent given the systems’ inability to fully replace human drivers, necessitating constant human oversight to manage unforeseen road scenarios and system limitations.


The evaluation criteria focused on several key areas: driver monitoring, attention reminders, emergency procedures, driver involvement, and the integration of essential safety features. The findings showed a general lack of robust mechanisms to ensure driver attentiveness and readiness to take control. For instance, most systems struggled with effectively monitoring whether drivers were paying attention to the road and prepared to intervene when necessary.


Attention reminders, which are critical in re-engaging a distracted driver, were another area where many systems fell short. The ideal system would issue immediate and persistent warnings upon detecting driver inattention, escalating to emergency measures if the alerts go unheeded. Unfortunately, many systems lacked the urgency and intensity in their warning strategies to refocus the driver’s attention on the road.


Emergency procedures, designed to mitigate risks when a driver fails to respond to attention reminders, were also evaluated. The standards demand that systems should initiate a slowdown within 35 seconds of detecting driver disengagement, with further protocols to alert emergency services if necessary. Only a few systems met these criteria, underlining a significant area for improvement.


The role of driver involvement in maintaining lane discipline and executing lane changes was another critical evaluation area. The findings suggested that automation should not supplant but rather support the driver’s decision-making process, with manual interventions being crucial in certain scenarios to ensure safety.


Lastly, the integration of foundational safety features like automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane departure prevention was scrutinized. Systems were expected to be inoperative if these essential features were disabled, ensuring that partial automation does not compromise established safety measures.


These IIHS ratings highlight a pressing need for manufacturers to refine their systems, ensuring they enhance rather than compromise road safety. It seems as though we’re still a long ways away from fully automated driving.


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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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