A new grading system has been launched to help drivers better understand autonomous emergency driving and other assisted driving features on modern cars.
The ‘first-of-its-kind’ system has been launched by Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP in response to the “dangerous misconception” that motorists can purchase a self-driving car today.
A grading of very good, good, moderate or entry is awarded to cars – depending on their performance during a number of tests.
Cars are marked on three criteria: vehicle assistance (how effective the systems are), driver engagement (whether the car assesses if the driver is still in control of the vehicle) and safety back-up (whether or not the car protects the driver in the event of an emergency).
One system that’s assessed is Highway Assist. The feature uses Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Centering (LC) technology to help drivers maintain a steady speed and keep a safe distance from other cars when driving on a motorway.
Thatcham Research warns there is “significant potential for car makers to overstate the capability of their current assisted driving technology and for motorists to misuse it.”
Matthew Avery, Thatcham’s director of research, said: “The systems that are currently allowed on our roads are there to assist the driver – but do not replace them.
“Unfortunately, there are motorists that believe they can purchase a self-driving car today. This is a dangerous misconception that sees too much control handed to vehicles that are not ready to cope with all situations.”
Three cars awarded top grade
After the first set of assessments, three cars were awarded a ‘very good’ grading – including the Mercedes GLE, which topped the scoring with 174. The BMW 3 Series (172) and Audi Q8 (162) were also given the top ranking.
Meanwhile, while the Tesla Model 3 was the best for vehicle assistance and safety back-up, the all-electric car lost points for overselling its ‘Autopilot’ system, which was found to discourage drivers from engaging when behind the wheel.
This saw it awarded a score of 131 and a grading of moderate.
Mr Avery added: “The first batch of results show some car makers have developed robust assisted driving systems and that’s good to see. But there are also significant gaps in capability on other vehicles.”
“Clarity is therefore required to make sure drivers understand the capability and performance of current assisted systems.
“It’s crucial today’s technology is adopted safely before we take the next step on the road to automation. There are safety and insurance implications that must be considered seriously.”