Safer driver-assist tech is now more important than self-driving cars, consumers say

Drivers overwhelmingly want automakers to improve existing driver support features before developing fully autonomous vehicles (AVs), and recent crash tests confirmed that inconsistent performance remains an issue with these semi-autonomous systems currently on the market. .

Those are the highlights of new research published Thursday by the AAA automotive group.

“You can’t sell consumers the future if they don’t trust the present,” Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering, said in a statement. “And drivers tell us they expect their current driver assistance technology to work safely at all times. But unfortunately, our tests show that erratic performance is the norm, not the exception.”

The research findings were presented in the “Active Driving Assistance System Performance, May 2022” report, based on the results of a consumer survey and recent crash tests.

The survey of 1,107 adults conducted earlier this year on consumer attitudes supported the continued poor performance of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS): the majority of respondents (77% compared to 18%) said that they were more interested in improved vehicle safety systems than self-control. drive cars

Public skepticism about self-driving cars was reinforced by a series of new performance crash test results that found that vehicles with an active driving assistance system (also known as Level 2 systems) failed to avoid crashes with another car or bicycle consistently over 15 tests. careers.

For example, a head-on collision occurred during the 15 test runs for a vehicle approaching within the travel lane; in just one test vehicle, speed was significantly reduced before a crash in each race.

Vehicles used for the evaluation included: a 2021 Subaru Forester with “EyeSight®”; a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe with “highway driving assist”; and a 2020 Tesla Model 3 with “autopilot,” AAA said, noting that the “failures occurred regardless of vehicle make and model.”

Of the report:

“While the refinement of available active driving assistance systems improves, drivers must remain continually engaged in the task of driving. The research vehicles performed as expected during closed-course testing for routine situations, such as approaching a slow-moving vehicle or bicyclist from behind. However, all test vehicles collided with either the simulated passenger car or the adult cyclist multiple times during the “borderline case” test, such as a car approaching head-on or a bicyclist crossing directly in front of the test car. “.

Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering, said the fact that the driving systems successfully detected slow-moving cars and bicyclists in the same lane during testing was promising, but “the failure to detect a crossing bicyclist or an oncoming vehicle is alarming. “

“A frontal crash is the deadliest type, and these systems need to be optimized for the situations where they can help the most,” he added.

The report found that consumer mistrust of fully autonomous vehicles remains high: 85% said they were afraid or unsure of self-driving technology, and when transporting their children or loved ones, 85 % also said they would not feel comfortable using an autonomous vehicle.

The auto group said it “urges automakers to listen to consumers and improve what is currently available before focusing on future technology.”

To read the full report, click here.

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