Safety Ratings Continue to Drive ADAS Adoption, But Where are the Long Term Opportunities?

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By James Hodgson | 3Q 2016 | IN-4156

Rating agencies, such as Euro NCAP and the IIHS, continue to be the principal drivers behind ADAS growth and development, constantly pushing OEMs towards 100% standard fitment. Once the market reaches this point, what opportunities are there for ADAS beyond active safety?

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The Coveted Five Star Rating


Safety rating agencies, such as Euro NCAP, have played a central role in encouraging ADAS adoption and implementation. The reflection of ADAS fitment in safety ratings, such as the NCAP star rating, has proven highly effective in compensating for low ADAS awareness and education among consumers and dealers, as well as efficiently communicating the safety benefit of these systems. Most recently, the SEAT Ateca, Volkswagen Tiguan, and Alfa Romeo Giulia have all received five star ratings due to the standard fitment of AEB. Of particular note is the latter model from FCA, a brand which has lagged behind competitors in ADAS innovation and implementation. This is further evidence of the effectiveness that safety ratings have in shaping ADAS implementation strategies. 

ADAS Testing Roadmap


Over the next five to ten years, rating agencies will expand their influence from encouraging system fitment to shaping system development in order to ensure that systems are effective in preventing those accidents that pose the greatest risk of injury and death. As ADAS has steadily found its way into more and more vehicles over the past 5 years, there is now a considerable amount of empirical evidence for the “real world” effectiveness of a number of different systems.

Particular systems have proven highly effective in reducing and mitigating certain collisions and improving safety.  For example automatic emergency braking (AEB) has resulted in a 38% reduction of front-to-rear collisions. However, other accident categories have remained stubbornly high, in particular single vehicle crashes – those accidents, which only involve one vehicle and usual occur as a result of departures from the road. Such accidents account for 17% of insurance claims and 20% of accidents in which someone is killed or seriously injured. Given that lane departure warning (LDW) and lane keeping assist (LKA) systems were intended to prevent single vehicle accidents, it appears that these systems have not been as effective as hoped.

There is already some indication as to why LDW has performed so poorly – an IIHS study observing Honda vehicles being serviced found that consumers tended to deactivate their LDW systems while leaving their AEB systems on. In any case, NCAP is currently working on a testing procedure for an emergency lane keeping system, which will be designed to more effectively mitigate accidents that result from an unintended departure from the road, while still retaining the ability to perform emergency steering to avoid collisions. At this time, no OEM offers an emergency lane keeping system, which suggests that crash testing agencies are attempting to take a more leading role in system development by setting testing conditions and requirements that imply a certain level of functionality.

Safety First - But What Comes Next?


There can therefore be no doubt that the driving force behind current ADAS development and adoption are safety-centric. Most OEMs in the U.S. have even gone so far as to promise 100% fitment of AEB by 2020. This begs the question: How do OEMs intend to add value through ADAS when active safety is universal and systems are developed according to common tests, which are themselves formulated to deliver a similar degree of functionality across brands? One promising avenue is the potential to leverage data captured by ADAS sensors for non-active safety applications, such as aggregating data captured from a large fleet of connected vehicles and offering new services, like hyperlocal weather updates or traffic information. This would require much better “joined-up thinking” from OEMs and their suppliers, ensuring that the architectures of ADAS can also support non-safety value add services.

Another significant hurdle would be scale, with a certain critical mass of connected, sensor-equipped vehicles required before coherent and effective services can be offered. This is one area in which standardized interfaces such as SENORIS, an interface specification originally proposed by mapping vendor HERE and now submitted to ERTICO as a universal data format, could play an important role. Given the already wide degree of industry support from across the ecosystem for a standard first proposed just over a year ago, SENSORIS seems poised to play an important role in moving ADAS beyond active safety, as well as a vital role in enabling autonomous driving.