Sergio Avila

AAA Finds Active Driving Assistance Systems are Far From Perfect, Would Benefit From Rigorous Testing

AAA Northern California’s GoMentum Station proves valuable in testing this consumer technology in a closed-course setting

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (August 6, 2020) – AAA automotive researchers found after 4,000 miles of real-world driving, vehicles equipped with active driving assistance systems experienced some type of issue every 8 miles, on average. The most common issue occurred with lane keeping assistance, as vehicles would come too close to guardrails or other vehicles.

AAA also found active driving assistance systems, those that combine vehicle acceleration with braking and steering, often disengage with little notice – almost instantly handing control back to the driver, which can be a dangerous scenario for unsuspecting motorists.

“AAA has repeatedly found that active driving assistance systems do not perform consistently, especially in real-word scenarios,” said Sergio Avila, spokesperson for AAA Northern California. “Manufacturers need to work toward more dependable technology, including improving lane keeping assistance and providing more adequate alerts.”

AAA tested the functionality of active driving assistance systems in real-world conditions as well as closed-course scenarios to determine how well they responded to common driving scenarios. On public roadways, nearly three-quarters (73%) of errors involved instances of lane departure or erratic lane position.

Closed-course testing was performed at AAA Northern California’s GoMentum Station. The site provides ideal features for scenario-based testing  of active driving assistance systems as well as fully autonomous technology. The closed-course testing found the systems performed mostly as expected but struggled when approaching a simulated disabled vehicle. When encountering this test scenario, a collision occurred 66% of the time and the average impact speed was 25 mph. 

“Given the performance of these systems in our testing, it’s critical to educate consumers about the benefits of the technology and where there's room for improvement,” said Matt Alfano, Vice President Mobility Innovation for GoMentum Station. “With consumer safety in mind, GoMentum is ready to help vehicle manufacturers improve this available technology while paving the way for the future of all mobility.”

Active driving assistance, classified as Level 2 driving automation on a scale of six (0-5) created by the SAE International, are advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that provide the highest level of automated vehicle technology available to the public today. This means for a majority of drivers, their first or only interaction with vehicle automation is through these types of systems.

As a result of these tests, AAA recommends manufacturers increase the scope of testing for active driving assistance systems and limit their roll out until functionality is improved to provide a more consistent and safer driver experience. AAA has met with industry leaders to provide insight from the testing experience and recommendations for improvement. The insights are also shared with AAA members and the public to inform their driving experiences and vehicle purchase decisions.

AAA conducted closed-course testing and naturalistic driving in partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center and AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah’s GoMentum Proving Grounds. Using a defined set of criteria, AAA selected the following vehicles for testing:  2019 BMW X7 with “Active Driving Assistant Professional”, 2019 Cadillac CT6 with “Super Cruise™”, 2019 Ford Edge with “Ford Co-Pilot360™”, 2020 Kia Telluride with “Highway Driving Assist” and 2020 Subaru Outback with “EyeSight®” and were sourced from the manufacturer or directly from dealer inventory. The 2019 Cadillac CT6 and the 2019 Ford Edge were evaluated only within naturalistic environments. For specific methodology regarding testing equipment, closed-course test scenarios and naturalistic routes, please refer to the full report here.

About AAA Northern California

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