Tips: Driver assisted technology

Blog post posted on 13/10/20 |

Last week a new grading system for assisted driving systems was launched by Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP which is designed to give consumers a clearer understanding of the driver assistance on new vehicles. Assisted driving systems require the driver to remain alert and in control of the car at all times. They are different from automated driving systems where the car drives itself. Automated driving systems are not available yet, although manufacturers claim that we could have them for motorway driving as early as 2021. The different systems have already given us a lexicon of abbreviations and it helps to understand what they are, what they are supposed to do and when they will come into action. Here, Tim Shallcross Head of Technical Policy and Advice for IAM Roadsmart shares some tips with us about assisted driving technology.

  • AEB: Automatic Emergency Braking. This uses radar and cameras to monitor the road ahead. If the technology detects a risk of running into stationary or slower moving vehicles it gives the driver a warning – usually a loud buzzer and a dashboard light. If the driver doesn’t react, the brakes are applied hard to stop the car and avoid a collision or reduce the severity of it. However, sometimes the system will detect a collision risk when there isn’t one. For example, if the car is on a bend the radar might identify a parked car as a risk. If you hear the collision warning and the road ahead is clear, you have time to react before the brakes are applied. You simply need to let AEB know that you are alert and not asleep. More or less any driver input will do – a light touch of the brakes or indicating left or right will suffice and the system will go no further.
  • ACC: Adaptive Cruise Control. This uses radar to maintain a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front. If that vehicle slows down, it will slow you down. However, it’s not an emergency braking system; if the car in front slows down very rapidly, a warning will sound, and you should brake. This will cancel cruise control and you will need to re-engage it. You should also stay aware of what’s happening ahead. Trucks may pull into an overtaking lane at the last minute to pass a much slower moving vehicle. If this happens, your ACC will suddenly pick up the slower moving vehicle and brake hard. Keep monitoring the road ahead to avoid getting caught out like this.
  • High beam assist: This clever system switches to headlight main beam at night when there is no vehicle ahead and dips one or both lights when you are following a car or when one approaches in the opposite direction. However, it relies on detecting headlights or taillights. If you are approaching a side road with a car waiting to pull out, the lights will stay on main beam and you should manually dip them to avoid dazzling the driver.
  • Lane Keeping Assistance: This monitors the lane markings and warns the driver if the car starts to drift over the line. This is usually haptic feedback through vibration in the steering wheel.However, if the lines are worn out or covered in snow or mud, the system can’t detect them and will not operate. Make sure you stay alert and don’t get over-tired, especially on long motorway journeys.

Tim says:” Assisted driving systems are becoming much more common and have the potential to improve safety, but they don’t cope with all circumstances. It’s important to understand what the systems are designed to do, always stay alert and know when to take control yourself.”

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