Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) Explained

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)

Similar to traditional Cruise Control, with the addition of a radar that monitors the car infront so the system can keep a fixed distance. This may include ‘Stop & Go’ or ‘Queue Assist’ functionality that can slow the car to a complete stop and start driving again once a hazard ahead has cleared.

Blind Spot Warning

A warning system that lets you know when another vehicle is in your blind spot. This can help prevent collisions when changing lane with many manufacturers using sensors similar to parking sensors. Because these warnings may be regular, they are non-obtrusive such as a warning light in the wing mirror or interior trim.

Driver Alerts

Aimed to combat tiredness at the wheel or being distracted, these warning systems monitor performance and alert you if it senses attentiveness is affected. Most systems will give an audible alert along with a message on the dashboard display encouraging you to take a break. Advanced systems can even alert you of a potential collision if one is detected ahead.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

This prevents you from losing control in a skid and has proven to be so effective, it’s been mandatory on new vehicles since 2012. It works by applying small steering and braking actions to selected wheels if it senses the car veering off course. Research shows that vehicles equipped with ESC are a huge 25% less likely to be involved in a fatal accident than those without it.

Forward Collision Warning (FCW)

FCW systems detect potential obstacles in your path and alert you with a warning. They can also support drivers by boosting the braking input to help avoid a crash, however, unlike AEB, FCW doesn’t work automatically, it needs you to take action and apply the brakes in response to the warning.

Front Side View Cameras

These are a development of reversing cameras, but put into the front bumper on both sides of the car. They provide you with a real-time overview of traffic conditions when pulling out of obscured junctions, gateways or car parks and provide extra information when manoeuvring in those tight spaces.

Lane Departure Warning

Most of these systems use a forward facing camera mounted inside the windscreen by the rear view mirror to identify the lane markings and seeing if they are crossed. When activated typical warnings include a flashing symbol on the dashboard display or audible alert. If the indicators are used before changing lanes, the warnings are deactivated.

Lane Keep Assist Systems (LKAS)

Building on LDW systems, this steers the car to keep a central position between lane markings. If the car starts to unintentionally cross lanes, steering and/or braking is automatically applied to return the car to the centre of the lane and a warning is sounded. On tighter bends, if lane markings are poor or the driver takes their hand off the steering wheel, LKAS automatically suspends itself.

Night Vision

Using infrared sensors to detect heat contrasts, these systems let you ‘see’ further into the distance. The images picked up are displayed on the sat nav or dashboard. The BMW Night Vision system with Pedestrian Recognition even monitors the images and when a pedestrian is identified, you’re alerted.

Parking Aids

Did you know that in the UK nearly a quarter of all insurance claims are related to parking or low speed manoeuvres? There are a wide variety of parking and manoeuvring assistance systems available, in some cases even controlling the speed and driving direction on behalf of you, the driver.

ADAS and Autonomy

Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) come in many forms: from systems that apply the brakes if they sense an imminent crash (Autonomous Emergency Braking) to ones that help maintain a constant distance from the car ahead (Adaptive Cruise Control) to others that help keep the vehicle in the lane (Lane Keep Assistance).

They operate using a wide range of technologies from cameras, to radars and lidar systems which when required can operate both independently and in fusion with other systems that help to identify and avoid potential hazards either by warning the driver, or by automatically taking over an element of the vehicle such as braking, or steering if the driver doesn’t react.

It is important to remember that these are driver assistance systems, and are designed to support the driver.  Not replace them.  You are ultimately responsible and liable.  So, do not over rely on them and make sure that you are 100% in control of the vehicle at all times.

Thatcham Research is assessing these technologies and evaluating how they can benefit motorists.  Our comprehensive AEB fitment guide shows you the availability of AEB across the model range – whether it is standard fit, optional, or unavailable, as well as the functionality of each system.

Our Opinion

"Extensive testing and impressive real world data is already showing us the benefits."

Did You Know?

‘At least one fatal sleep related crash occurs every day in the UK’


"Many vehicles are now able to identify and avoid potential hazards either by warning the driver."