From ABS to ZEV, decoding all the acronyms on a new car’s spec sheet can be bewildering – especially when it comes to ADAS.
That’s the first one you need to know. It stands for Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems, and it encompasses all the electronic features that can make your car safer and easier to operate out on the road, with all its attendant dangers and hassles.
But even within the realm of ADAS features, there are still ever-more acronyms to decipher and technologies to understand. So we’ve highlighted four of the most crucial ADAS features that – in our opinion – you should look for when shopping for a new car.
Lane-Keeping Assist (LKA)
Veering unintentionally out of your lane (or off the road entirely) is one of the most dangerous events that can occur behind the wheel. In fact the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that incidents involving just single vehicles departing the roadway accounted for a staggering 40 percent of fatal crashes in America in 2014 alone… and even more head-on collisions and sideswipes with other vehicles. Drifting out of lane is also one of the first indicators of a driver’s drowsiness (along with other forms of impairment or distraction), which brings with it additional dangers.
Whereas passive Lane-Departure Warning technology is designed to help mitigate these risks by alerting the driver when drifting out of lane without signaling, Lane-Keeping Assist takes it a step further by monitoring the road ahead, detecting if the vehicle is veering out of lane, and (if necessary) gently guiding it back onto the proverbial straight-and-narrow.
The evidence supports the importance of this ADAS feature. A 2015 study, for instance, determined that 67 percent of incidents in which the driver drifted out of lane and departed the roadway could (assuming a sufficient shoulder) have been avoided with the intervention of Lane-Keeping Assist technology. And that doesn’t even account for other dangers that this technology can help mitigate, like the nightmare scenario of veering into oncoming traffic.
Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
Most experienced drivers have felt the shock of having to suddenly hit the brakes. In those moments, we are beyond grateful to have been able to react quickly enough. Far too often, though, human drivers are too slow to react, and a crash ensues.
That’s where Automatic Emergency Braking comes in. AEB is based on the same idea as Forward Collision Warning (FCW): detecting and preventing an imminent collision. But where FCW passively warns the driver to take action, AEB actively intervenes by automatically applying the brakes to avoid collision – typically reacting much more quickly than a human driver ever could.
No wonder that a recent survey indicated AEB to be one of the most desirable driver-assistance technologies on the market, with 46 percent of respondents indicating they were “very interested” in this feature – second only to Blind-Spot Monitoring, but demonstrably more effective: the IIHS found “forward collision warning systems plus autobrake” (as it terms AEB) to be capable of reducing rear-end collisions by 50 percent (and resulting injuries by 56 percent), representing a far greater benefit than Blind-Spot Monitoring… or any other ADAS feature it evaluated, for that matter.
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
We’re all familiar by now with cruise control – the feature that allows the driver to set a speed for the vehicle to maintain. Cruise control has been available for decades already, but Adaptive Cruise Control takes the idea even further by making minute adjustments to the vehicle’s speed to adapt to the flow of traffic, thus making the drive as smooth as possible. If an ACC-enabled vehicle comes up on slower-moving traffic, the technology will slow the vehicle down, then bring it back up to the set speed again once the way is clear, so the driver doesn’t have to switch the system off and on again.
In the realm of ADAS, ACC might be considered more of a “convenience” than a “safety” feature. But this technological feature can be rather convenient indeed, especially for drivers who spend a lot of time cruising down (or stuck in traffic on) the highway. Thirty-one percent of respondents to that same survey mentioned above indicated they were “very interested” in ACC, placing it third in the study (tied with Pedestrian Detection, and behind only AEB and Blind-Spot Monitoring).
Traffic Jam Assist (TJA)
Another “convenience” feature, Traffic Jam Assist (sometimes called Highway Assist) is essentially Adaptive Cruise Control combined with Lane-Centering (another technology, which automatically steers the vehicle to help it stay centered between the lane markings). But where ACC is helpful mostly for smoothly cruising the highway, TJA (as its name suggests) is more helpful when encountering heavy traffic.
When the highway begins to resemble a parking lot, TJA manages the throttle, brakes, and steering to help alleviate the nuisance of crawling through stop-and-go traffic. That can be particularly helpful for drivers who regularly encounter heavy congestion on their daily commute, and also helps reduce the prospect of lower-speed fender-benders.
Each of these ADAS features is available today from various manufacturers, in many cases enabled by a single forward-facing camera powered by Mobileye technology. And fleet operators that don’t replace their vehicles at the rapid pace of ADAS development need not be left behind: they can take advantage of ADAS technologies by retrofitting our stand-alone aftermarket device to their existing vehicles.
We’ve also taken a big step forward with the launch of Mobileye SuperVision™, which combines a surround-view multi-camera array, high-definition digital maps, and driving policy – all derived directly from our autonomous-vehicle program – to deliver an array of hands-free driving capabilities. It’s our most comprehensive ADAS suite yet, and it’s already heading into its first production application thanks to our new collaboration with Chinese automotive giant Geely.
No matter which of these technologies your vehicle may be equipped with, though, remember that they still fall short of full automation. So stay alert out there, and continue to heed Jim Morrison’s lyrical advice, which rings as true today as it did when The Doors first recorded “Roadhouse Blues” over half a century ago: “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.”
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