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Thursday, 20 January 2022 11:21

IIHS Announces New Ratings for Safeguards of Semi-Autonomous Vehicles

Written by Joey Klender, Teslarati

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced it is developing a new ratings program that evaluates the safeguards that vehicles with partial automation employ to help drivers stay attentive.

The IIHS will use four levels for rating the safeguards: good, acceptable, marginal or poor.

 

Vehicles with “good” safeguard system ratings will need to ensure the driver’s eyes are directed at the road and their hands are either on the wheel or ready to grab it at any point. Vehicles with escalating alert systems and appropriate emergency procedures when a driver does not meet those conditions will also be required, the IIHS said.

 

The first set of ratings are expected to be released in 2022. The precise timing is currently not solidified as supply chain bottlenecks have affected the IIHS’ ability to obtain test vehicles from manufacturers.

 

IIHS President David Harkey believes a rating system for these “driver monitoring” systems could determine their effectiveness and whether safeguards actually hold drivers accountable.

 

“Partial automation systems may make long drives seem like less of a burden, but there is no evidence that they make driving safer,” Harkey said. "In fact, the opposite may be the case if systems lack adequate safeguards.”

 

Self-driving cars are not yet available to consumers, the IIHS reassured in its press release. While some advertising operations or product names could be somewhat misleading, the IIHS admitted some vehicles have partial automation. However, the human driver is still required to handle many routine driving tasks that many of the systems simply cannot perform.

 

The driver always needs to be attentive and monitor the vehicle’s behavior, especially in case of an emergency where the driver needs to take over control of the car. The numerous semi-autonomous or partially automated programs on the market, like Tesla Autopilot, Volvo Pilot Assist and GM’s Super Cruise, to name a few, all have safeguards in place to help ensure drivers are focused and ready. However, the IIHS said “none of them meet all the pending IIHS criteria.”

 

The previously named partially automated driving systems all use cameras, radar or other sensors to “see” the road. Systems currently offered on the market combine Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and lane centering with other driver assistance features. Automated lane changing is becoming common as well, and is a great example of one of these additional features.

 

Regardless of how many features a semi-autonomous driving program has, all of them still require the driver to remain attentive and vigilant during operation. This does not mean all drivers maintain attention, as some may use cheat devices or other loopholes to operate a vehicle with semi-autonomous features in a fully autonomous way.

 

Additionally, the IIHS mentioned in its press release some manufacturers “have oversold the capabilities of their systems, prompting drivers to treat the systems as if they can drive the car on their own.”

 

We thank Teslarati for reprint permission.

 

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