It's time to stop thinking of ADAS as a pit stop toward autonomous vehicles and redefine ADAS standards to reflect the industry's emphasis on improving current systems.
A few years ago, many analysts would have predicted that the 2020s would be the decade of the autonomous vehicle.
But that dream seems to have been delayed. Instead, it looks like Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are slated to define the coming decade of automotive innovation. Long seen as a mere precursor to fully self-driving cars, ADAS is poised to gear up as automakers shift their focus from full automation to applications that can enhance vehicle safety and performance. Indeed, forecasters project that the ADAS market will surge 207 percent during this decade, rising from $27 billion in 2020 to $83 billion by 2030.
It’s time to stop thinking of ADAS as a pit stop toward autonomous vehicles and redefine ADAS standards to reflect the industry’s new emphasis on improving the systems on the market today.
By de-emphasizing full autonomy, is the industry effectively giving up on the vision of safer streets, long regarded as one of the central selling points of self-driving cars?
Far from it. ADAS can play a pivotal role in reducing the roughly 40,000 annual traffic deaths in the U.S., most of which are caused by human error. AAA estimates that forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance and blind spot warning systems could potentially prevent 40 percent of crashes, 37 percent of injuries and 29 percent of accident deaths annually.
While fully autonomous vehicles may help drive down vehicle fatalities further, such cars are still a long way off, especially given current technological, regulatory and public acceptance barriers.
Rather than going all-in on the quest for full autonomy, the industry should prioritize greater integration of ADAS technologies, which can deliver real and widespread safety improvements today – not many years down the line.
Europe is deemed a world leader in developing relevant testing protocols for ADAS, and boasts the world’s safest roads and fewest traffic deaths. A variety of factors help explain that distinction, but more advanced ADAS requirements have been credited with playing an important role. Starting next year, all new models sold in Europe must come equipped with ADAS features including automatic emergency braking, driver distraction and fatigue warning, intelligent speed assistance and lane-keep assistance.
The automotive market is cruising somewhere between Levels 1 (driver assistance) and 2 (partial automation). The next leg will be moving to Levels 2 and 2+, which is forecast to become the largest segment over the next ten years. Numerous systems are under development to make this a reality – providing a glimpse at what ADAS advances will actually look like on the ground.
They include a system for vulnerable road user (VRU) detection pioneered by Humanising Autonomy, which uses AI to generate faster, more accurate VRU collision warnings than current ADAS systems provide.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise system, meanwhile, includes an infrared camera that verifies that a driver’s eyes are on the road, generating sensory warnings to recapture distracted drivers’ attention.
While private industry continues to develop ADAS solutions, policymakers should learn from the European example and incentivize greater ADAS adoption for the U.S. market – a step that would not only encourage more private sector innovation, but also help save thousands of drivers’ lives every year.
The six-level scheme for automotive autonomy – ranging from Level 0 (no automation) to Level 5 (full automation) – is also due for a rethink. As currently constructed, this scale treats fully autonomous cars as the inevitable goal of all automotive innovation. But the ultimate purpose of automotive technology is to make vehicles safer and to improve their performance.
A pragmatic scheme that focuses on a range of effective driver assistance technologies is a smarter, more realistic approach.
When the automotive ecosystem sees improved ADAS as a destination in itself – not just a pit stop on the way to the as-yet uncertain date when fully autonomous cars are widely available – a new fleet of higher-performing, more sophisticated, and safer vehicles will hit the roads.
That’s what makes the ADAS boom a phenomenon worth roaring our engines about.
This article was originally published on EE Times.
Orr Danon is CEO and co-founder of Hailo.