For decades, vehicle manufacturers have moved incrementally toward blending advanced technology with active driver assistance. Ultimately, their goal is to realize the truly autonomous vehicle. They must accomplish this in stages, however, paying careful attention to computer programming, machine learning and artificial intelligence. The challenge, though, is navigating the fine line between safety systems and too much technology.
Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) have slowly become standard on numerous vehicles. From blind spot monitoring to forward collision detection, these safety systems are in place to help drivers reach their destinations safely. Unfortunately, two factors can ultimately limit the effectiveness of these systems:
- Assumptions regarding limitations: Too often, drivers assume too much of their vehicle’s ADAS. As an example, drivers might choose to change lanes on a highway without looking assuming their ADAS will prevent a collision. While this might be partially correct, the blind spot monitoring is generally not designed to recognize either a fast-approaching vehicle or stopped traffic in the intended lane. Relying only on the safety feature rather than a visual check can lead to deadly collisions.
- Encouraged multitasking behavior: Closely linked to the previous example, drivers might feel they are protected while behind the wheel and choose to engage in multitasking behaviors. These are almost always considered distracted driving actions. With all the ADAS systems in place, what’s the harm in making a phone call, eating lunch or personal grooming while behind the wheel? It is crucial to remember that programmers have designed these safety systems to assist drivers rather than completely control the vehicle. Driver’s are required to provide input for safe operation.
Autonomous vehicles are coming. The technology is still likely decades away, but drivers will soon experience a fully safe, self-driving vehicle. It is crucial to remember, however, that manufacturers must highlight the limitations of the system rather than simply trumpeting the success of innovation. Until then, it is crucial that drivers must remain aware and attentive no matter the road type or length of the commute.