The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has long been rolling out tougher tests for automakers to pass. From more demanding side-impact evaluations to putting automatic emergency braking systems to the test, the IIHS usually goes beyond the government standard. This time around, it's semi-autonomous driving systems that are under its microscope.
The agency has come up with stricter criteria for semi-autonomous driving systems. It focuses more on the safeguards that ensure the vehicle operator is fully aware of their surroundings and not dependent on these driving aids. David Harkey, president of the IIHS, explains the need for the new test.
“Partial automation systems may make long drives seem like less of a burden, but there is no evidence that they make driving safe. In fact, the opposite may be the case if systems lack adequate safeguards.”
Consumer Reports also shares the same sentiments of the IIHS. The organization recently announced that it will test driver monitoring systems for cars that have these systems equipped. Per the company, the only automakers that passed their parameters were Ford and General Motors. However, the IIHS parameters are even stricter.
Most partial automation systems have some safeguards in place to help ensure drivers are focused and ready. However, the IIHS says none of the current ones in the market meet all its pending criteria. So, what will it take to pass the IIHS' tests? There must be constant monitoring of the driver's gaze and hand position, along with multiple alert types to get their attention. Driver confirmation for lane changes is also a must. Interestingly, the IIHS would want a fail-safe procedure that slows down the vehicle, notifies the manufacturer, and keeps automation off-limits for the remainder of the drive.
The IIHS adds that the adaptive cruise control must not resume after a lengthy stop or if the driver is not looking at the road. Additionally, active safety systems such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning must stay on for these semi-autonomous driving assists to activate. Last but not least, the system should not be enabled if the seatbelts are not fastened.
In its statement, the IIHS called out some manufacturers for overselling the capabilities of semi-autonomous driving systems. Because of that, it gives the impression of full autonomy to the drivers, the agency adds.