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In 2015 (the latest available data), there were 1.75 million road accidents involving casualties in the US, and 37,150 deaths due to road accidents in 2017 (OECD, 2019).
Advanced Driving Assistance Systems
Globally, there are over 3,000 deaths caused by road accidents every day, and for young people aged 15-29 car accidents are the leading cause of death. Electric vehicles (EVs) are responding to these concerning statistics – and the ever-increasing presence of passenger vehicles on our roads and in our cities – by incorporating a new breed of car safety measures: advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS).
ADASs are electronic systems that help car drivers by automating, adapting and enhancing vehicle systems to make driving a safer and better experience. An ADAS takes inputs from multiple sources of data including radar, LiDAR and image sensors, and computer vision. Smart ADASs connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) by mobile data or WiFi also take inputs from other vehicles (knowns as vehicle-to-vehicle, V2V) and surrounding infrastructure such as buildings and roads (vehicle-to-vehicle, V2X).
These inputs can then be used to automate vehicle features like lighting, road and lane positioning, collision avoidance, and pedestrian crash avoidance mitigation (PCAM). ADASs also help drivers (and, increasingly, human self-driving car operators) by providing useful information through sounds and head-up displays (HUDs) such as lane departure warnings, alerts to other cars or potential dangers, navigation information and traffic sign recognition, and blind-spot and rear-view parking signaling. Examples of driving enhancements enabled by ADASs include anti-lock brakes, adaptive cruise control, traction control, automatic parking, crosswind stabilization, hill descent control, tire pressure monitoring systems, and rain sensors.
EVs – which are rapidly growing in terms of market share for new passenger vehicles – are at the forefront of adopting these new technologies. Electric car specialist, Tesla, introduced its pioneering Autopilot software in 2014, and over 47 million miles have been driven with Autopilot mode turned on in Tesla cars since then. Tesla has reported findings from the data these miles provide, that drivers are 50% less likely to be involved in a car accident with Autopilot switched on.
Autopilot incorporates numerous ADAS technologies to assist, automate and enhance the driving experience. Adaptive cruise control utilizes a forward-looking radar installed in the lower grille of the vehicle to maintain a relatively consistent speed (saving energy) while simultaneously preserving a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Tesla’s adaptive cruise control slows the vehicle when it approaches interstate ramps when a car crosses in front and on tight curves. It can also differentiate between different types of vehicle.
Other features of Tesla’s Autopilot system include autopark and summon, which automatically park the vehicle and retrieve it from a parking space, autosteer which maintains a central lane position, automatic lighting adjustment, and front or side collision detection and avoidance including automatic braking and swerving.
Conscious of the need to protect some drivers from overreliance on these safety features, Autopilot also includes an alert system which does not allow the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel for long periods. Autopilot alerts drivers to excessive inattention and automatically turns off until the car is parked if the driver ignores three alerts within one hour.
Nissan Pro-Pilot Assist ADAS
Nissan’s electric Leaf vehicles use the Nissan Pro-Pilot Assist ADAS. Pro-Pilot Assist has been sold on over 75,000 vehicles since its launch in Japan in 2016. Pro-Pilot Assist also uses front-facing camera and radar inputs to automate acceleration, steering, and braking in its adaptive cruise control system. Unlike the Tesla Autopilot, Nissan’s stated goal for the Pro-Pilot Assist is to assist drivers, not replace them. For this reason, it has a strong emphasis on ensuring drivers remain active while reducing their workload in multi-lane driving situations, employing alarms and automatically stopping if the system detects the driver is not using it as intended.
In addition to these original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) ADASs, aftermarket systems are also available. Mobileye, for example, specializes in vision-based collision prevention and mitigation and began selling its aftermarket system in 2006. Mobileye’s aftermarket product is available worldwide, and the company (acquired by Intel in 2017 for $15.3 billion), is also in partnership with a number of automobile manufacturers including BMW and Volkswagen who include their technology in production models.
The global market for ADASs is expected to grow at a 15.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to 2025 and is currently valued at an estimated $11.83 billion. Combined with the rapid growth of the EV market, this will lead the majority of cars on the roads in the future to come equipped with these safety and enhancement technologies.
Sources and Further Reading