The human driver in charge must stay on task: IIHS Study

Results underscore the fact that today's systems aren't robust substitutes for human drivers.

IIHS has been conducting on-road and track tests to craft a consumer ratings program for advanced driver assistance systems.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries and property damage — from motor vehicle crashes.

The institute has found from the evaluations of adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping that they show variable performance in typical driving situations, such as approaching stopped vehicles and negotiating hills and curves. The early results underscore the fact that today’s systems aren’t robust substitutes for human drivers.

One of the questions researchers looked to answer is, do the systems handle driving tasks as humans would? Not always, tests showed. When they didn’t perform as expected, the outcomes ranged from the irksome, such as too-cautious braking, to the dangerous, for example, veering toward the shoulder if sensors couldn’t detect lane lines.

Adaptive cruise control (ACC) maintains a set speed and following distance from the vehicle in front. It is designed to slow for cars ahead and can come to a full stop but may not react to already-stopped vehicles. ACC doesn’t react to traffic signals or other traffic controls. Active lane-keeping provides sustained steering input to keep the vehicle within its lane, but drivers must continue to hold the wheel.

On SAE International’s scale of zero autonomy to Level 5 full autonomy, the combination of ACC and active lane-keeping is Level 2. They can assist with steering, speed control and following distance, but the human driver is still in charge and must stay on task.

The full report on study can be read here.

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