Technology has produced new breakthroughs in forward collision warning, blind spot detection, adaptive headlights and active braking, among other innovations in advanced driver assist systems (ADAS). Automakers are now working to include ADAS in more models across more price points, hoping to achieve an economy of scale that will enable the technology to be offered as standard equipment instead as part of a step-up, extra-cost feature package.
As more automakers integrate ADAS into a wider range of their vehicle offerings, more consumers are being challenged to adopt to having portions of their driving experience handled by the car for the first time. The Automobile Association of America (AAA), in a recently released study, issued caution to automakers on the need for education and awareness of ADAS features in new cars.
“There are significant benefits to this technology, but these systems have limitations, and multi-tasking drivers could be caught off guard by relying too heavily on safety features,” says John Nielsen, managing director, AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “The benefits of these systems could easily be outweighed if motorists are not familiar with their operation or lessen focus behind the wheel. Technology is not a substitute for an alert, engaged driver.”
Bob Darbelnet, chief executive of AAA, said “We now understand that current shortcomings in these products, intended as safety features, may unintentionally cause greater levels of cognitive distraction.” The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a separate study, illustrated the indifferent nature of today’s drivers to safety practices, further demonstrating the need for such awareness of ADAS and proper usage of the technology.
In an effort to compete for consumers demanding the technology, automakers have been promoting their ADAS features over the traditional horsepower, entertainment and comfort offerings. Further study by Compass Intelligence shows how consumer preferences have shifted strongly toward safety features being among the top priority when shopping for new cars, thus driving automakers to place additional emphasis on ADAS.
Market research firm ABI Research forecasts that the market for ADAS will grow from $11.1 billion in 2014 to $91.9 billion by 2020, passing the $200 billion mark by 2024. This tells us that the widespread industry adoption of ADAS is not an illusion, and the need for more sophisticated consumer awareness efforts will be required as a part of this adoption.