Chances are if you’ve looked for or purchased a vehicle in the last few years you’ve been faced with choosing features or options that are referred to as ADAS, or advanced driver-assistance systems. These systems are supposed to help the driver with the driving process and therefore make driving safer.
Wikipedia says “Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are systems developed to automate/adapt/enhance vehicle systems for safety and better driving. Safety features are designed to avoid collisions and accidents by offering technologies that alert the driver to potential problems, or to avoid collisions by implementing safeguard and taking over control of the vehicle.”
Some of these adaptive feature seem fairly rudimentary and have been around for awhile albeit in a much simplified system. Cruise control and automatic high/low beam headlights come to mind.
Today’s ADAS cruise control systems are more accurately described as adaptive cruise control. Set the cruise and your vehicle will maintain a safe distance from any vehicle in front of you on the road. More advanced versions will work at both low and high speeds. If the vehicle in front of you comes to a complete stop your vehicle will as well.
The control of speed and distance is based on sensor information from the vehicle sensors.
These systems use radar or laser sensors and or video camera setups that determine the distance to the vehicle in front.
This type of cruise control is considered a key component to the development of autonomous vehicles.
I have yet to try out any of these adaptive cruise control systems but many reviews suggest they have their idiosyncrasies. Laser-based systems cannot track dirty cars very well. They need to be reflective. Adverse weather also decreases reliability. Radar and camera based systems offer more sophisticated control.
Congested freeway driving using these adaptive cruise control systems will have traffic always filling the space between you and the car in front of you. You can end up constantly slowing down and letting traffic in.
From just turning your lights on at dusk and possibly controlling the high and low beams lighting systems have taken a leap. The twenty first century brought us AFS. Headlights now swivel in response to the steering wheel and level themselves based on the load in the vehicle. Nobody will be flashing their high beams at you when you are pulling your trailer anymore.
The latest lighting systems use electronic sensors, transducers and actuators. Not only do the headlights turn as you corner, they may also use auxiliary lighting within the headlamp housing that switches on and off for special circumstances. Cornering lamps for sharp turns, fog lights for fog.
From automatic high beam control we now have intelligent light systems that behave differently while driving in the country verses on the freeway. We have adaptive highbeam headlights that lower the beam gradually as you approach a vehicle from behind.
Glare-free high beams selectively shade spots and slices out of the high beam pattern to protect approaching drivers from glare. Don’t we all wish all vehicles had this option as mandatory?
I have briefly described two automotive systems that are feeling the effect of ADAS. The list of new systems is long. Automatic parking, automotive night vision, blind spot monitoring, collision avoidance, crosswind stabilization, driver drowsiness detection, …. the list goes on.
All these systems gradually remove the responsibilities of you the driver. For some, complete autonomous driving won’t come soon enough.
I am not excited. I still like to actually drive a car.
Fortunately for me someone will have to know how to fix all these systems. I think my job is secure.