Explained: Today’s Assisted Driving technology
The Assisted Driving systems that are currently available on today’s new cars can offer many safety benefits if used correctly.
They combine acceleration and steering support systems that help to guide the vehicle along the road and maintain a set speed and safe distance from the car ahead to reduce driver fatigue on long journeys and in stop-start traffic.
Carmakers tend to use different names and terminology to describe their Assisted Driving systems which can create confusion.
The primary Assisted Driving systems currently on the market are:
Adaptive Cruise Control
Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is a comfort system that allows a vehicle to maintain a set speed and safe distance to the car ahead, by speeding up and slowing down accordingly. Some systems detect fixed and variable speed limits and adopt them, while the most advanced adapt speed for upcoming curves, junctions and roundabouts.
This ACC feature offers an automatic stop-and-go functionality in heavy traffic. It should only resume driving when the road ahead is clear and the driver is attentive and able to oversee their driving responsibilities.
An assistance system that helps the driver to stay in lane when navigating curves in the road. Some systems will merely adjust the steering direction, while others will also adjust the vehicle speed if necessary to navigate the bend.
Lane Change Assist
Using rear and side sensors, this system supports the driver when making a driver-initiated lane change. The sensors determine whether the target lane is free before allowing the car to complete a safe manoeuvre.
Safe Assisted Driving requires the driver to be engaged behind the wheel at all times. Most cars monitor this by detecting hands-on-wheel and driver steering inputs. The most advanced systems use direct Driver Monitoring sensors or cameras that monitor the driver to ensure the required engagement is maintained.
This offers steering support that works in unison with the driver’s intentions, rather than fighting against them. It provides the driver with a feeling of co-operation, not a hand-over of control.
Autonomous Emergency Braking
AEB is a safety system that monitors the road ahead and will automatically apply the car’s brakes if the driver fails to respond to a collision threat. It’s like an extra pair of eyes on the road and an extra foot over the brake pedal, ready to act if the driver is distracted.
Emergency Lane Keeping
Using forward-facing camera technology, the car monitors the position of the vehicle in its lane. If it strays over the white line without a lane-change signal being activated and there’s immediate danger, the system will intervene to help control the direction of the vehicle.
Unresponsive Driver Intervention
In the event of a disengaged driver being detected at the wheel, some cars disengage the Assisted Driving features, whereas the most advanced vehicles safely guide the vehicle to a crawl or stop, display the hazard warning lights and make an emergency call.
In case of a system failure, the car should provide a timely warning to the driver and deactivate the Assisted Driving systems if they can no longer function effectively.