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Euro NCAP to differentiate assisted and automated driving tech for buyers

Euro NCAP has started to assess automated driving technology and compare carmakers’ claims with how such systems work in practice to help end driver confusion.

Euro NCAP is testing technologies such as Adaptive Cruise Control in 10 models, including the Ford Focus

The organisation, responsible for testing the safety of new cars, has started the process by testing the comparative performance of various Highway Assist systems – which include Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping – in 10 cars currently on sale, including the BMW 5 Series, Ford Focus and Tesla Model S. The organisation is looking to rate those systems as either basic, advanced and superior from 2020, with automated systems expected to be rated from 2021.

This initiative comes as Thatcham Research, the UK Euro NCAP member, releases the results of a survey of UK drivers, which found that 53% believe that they can purchase a car that can drive itself today. The survey also found that 34% of drivers would be tempted to break the law while using an Assisted Driving system by texting on a mobile phone, while 11% would even consider taking a nap.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham, said: “Some carmakers are designing and marketing vehicles in such a way that drivers believe they can relinquish control. Carmakers want to gain competitive edge by referring to ‘self-driving’ or ‘semi-autonomous’ capability in their marketing, but it is fuelling consumer confusion. This is exacerbated by some systems doing too much for the driver, who ends up disengaged.

“Our message is that today’s technology supports the driver. It is not Automated Driving and it is not to be relied upon at the expense of driver attentiveness. The driver is in control and must always remain alert. If used correctly Highway Assist systems will improve road safety and reduce fatalities, but they won’t if naming and marketing convinces drivers that the car can take care of itself.”

The research is backed up by a new video that demonstrates why drivers should not become over-reliant on current Assisted Driving technologies. To watch it, click here.

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Craig Thomas

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