ADAS, Level 2/3 AVs Are Hazards, Experts Warn

Driver safety experts have warned Level 2/3 autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems cause driver inattention and disengagement.

A white paper on the dangers of driver distraction from UK road safety charity IAM RoadSmart questions Dr Lisa Dorn, chief education officer at insurance telematics maker The Floow and associate professor of driver behavior at Cranfield University, about ADAS and semi-autonomous driving tech. She is cited as saying “some ADAS systems may be lulling drivers … into a false sense of security” whereby their feelings that they can disengage from part of the driving process cause their reaction time to slow down.

She says: “With adaptive cruise control (ACC) for instance, it takes twice the amount of time to respond to a sudden braking event than it does when you are manually driving. Drivers may believe that ACC is safer but actually taking your foot off the accelerator pedal and letting the car make the decisions leads to lower workload and can mean drivers are unprepared for an unexpected event.”

The paper features a defense of ADAS by Thatcham Research principal automated driving engineer Colin Grover, who claims much of the tech “operates in the background, like autonomous emergency braking … not all ADAS adds distraction … it is there to help when needed.”

Dorn adds that she would like to see all AVs achieve Level 4 autonomy simultaneously to avoid a mix of autonomous and semi-autonomous cars on the roads together. She warns Levels 2 and 3 are “dangerous” as they cause drivers to “become intermittent operators”, driving the vehicle themselves for parts of journeys then becoming over-reliant on self-driving tech for others.

University of Sussex object recognition researcher Dr Graham Hole was also questioned for the study and dubs Levels 2 and 3 “the worst of all worlds”. He says: “Human beings are rubbish at being vigilant – vigilance declines after about 20 minutes. With semi-autonomous you are reducing the driver to monitoring the system on the off-chance something goes wrong. Most of the time nothing goes wrong, leading the driver to have massive faith in the system in all conditions, which of course isn’t always the case.”


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