IIHS Claims Advanced Driver-Assist Systems Need to Keep Drivers Focused on the Road More

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【Summary】The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety believes that modern advanced driver-assist systems allow drivers to stop focusing on the road and don’t allow them to regain control of the car when necessary.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Apr 27, 2020 6:00 AM PT
IIHS Claims Advanced Driver-Assist Systems Need to Keep Drivers Focused on the Road More

There are no autonomous cars on the market today that consumers can actually buy. While there are systems that get close to having semi-autonomous capabilities, no vehicle can truly drive itself without a driver behind the wheel. More and more, automakers are adding advanced driver-assist systems as standard on entry-level models or as affordable packages. Naturally, drivers are starting to take these features for granted, which the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) believes is a bad thing.

Driver-Assist Systems Make Lazy Drivers

To ensure that automakers come out with advanced driver-assist systems in a way that helps drivers and don't completely take them out of the equation, the IIHS has introduced a set of guidelines to help brands design the high-tech systems.

The first guideline is for automakers to design the high-tech driver aids around a single principle: shared control. In order for a system to have shared control, it should rely on drivers to change lanes and overtake vehicles, not do these things on its own. For vehicles that have automatic lane centering, the IIHS believes that drivers should still be able to put in their own input with the system engaged. By focusing on shared control, it ensures that drivers have to remain focused behind the wheel at all times.

Additionally, automakers should introduce systems that have built-in limits that don't allow drivers to use them whenever they would like. Systems should only be allowed to function on roads and under conditions where it is safe to do so. Currently, a lot of systems can be used everywhere as long as the road has clear markings.

"Unfortunately, the more sophisticated and reliable automation becomes, the more difficult it is for drivers to stay focused on what the vehicle is doing," said IIHS President David Harkey. "That's why systems should be designed to keep drivers actively engaged."

Monitoring Drivers Should Be Key

At the moment, using the SAE International scale, the highest level of automation available for consumers to purchase is Level 2. That includes Cadillac's Super Cruise, Tesla's Autopilot, and Nissan's ProPilot Assist. Level 5 is full autonomy – no need for a steering wheel or pedals. Even though these systems are well away from being fully autonomous, they still provide drivers with a "false sense of security" and allow drivers to get lazy when driving.

To remedy this, the IIHS believes that driver-assist systems should allow drivers to make steering adjustments instead of fighting them, have more robust methods of monitoring the driver and ensuring that they are paying attention, have ways to get the driver's attention immediately, as well as have a program where the vehicle comes to a stop if the driver isn't paying attention.

These are just guidelines and it's unlikely that automakers will heed the institute's warnings and implement these things into their vehicles unless the IIHS makes them mandatory to receive one of its awards. It's done that kind of a thing in the past with headlights, front-crash prevention systems, and crash tests. So, it's not unheard of.

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