Drivers are being mislead with unrealistic expectations of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), according to insurers and vehicle safety researchers.
In a report, Thatcham Research and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) say that drivers are being lulled into a false sense of security by the marketing of new driver assistance features such as Tesla’s enhanced “autopilot” and Nissan’s “ProPilot”.
Thatcham Research, which conducts safety tests for the motor insurers, says the manufacturers need to be clearer about the difference between these assisted-driving systems and autonomous cars.
Consumers not ready
Matthew Avery, head of research at Thatcham Research, said: “There’s a problem with the manufacturers trying to introduce technology and consumers not being ready for it, not being sure if it’s automated or ‘Do I need to keep watching?’
“We want it very clear.
“Either you are driving – assisted – or you’re not driving – automated.”
Level two autonomy
Current systems are capable of what is termed level two autonomy, which means they are able to keep the car on the road using existing combinations of technologies such as range-guided cruise control and lane-keeping aids.
However, they are not fully autonomous are cannot control the vehicle in all scenarios.
In April, a British driver lost his licence after being filmed on the motorway sitting in the passenger seat of his Tesla using its Autopilot system.
A Tesla spokeswoman said: “When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times.
“Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents and the issues described by Thatcham won’t be a problem for drivers using Autopilot correctly.”
In response to concerns, Thatcham Research is launching a testing programme to assess advanced driver assistance systems.
James Dalton of the ABI said: “Manufacturers must be responsible in how they describe and name what their vehicles can do, and the insurance industry is ready to hold them to account on this.”
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: “Fully self-driving cars are still a long way off, but industry is working now with regulators in the UK and at United Nations Economic Commission for Europe level to determine what makes a vehicle fully autonomous.
“This will ensure there is a common understanding and that all autonomous cars meet exacting international standards.”
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