Semi-autonomous systems ‘aren’t robust substitutes for human drivers’

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The current crop of semi-autonomous driver assists aren’t proper substitutes for hands-on attention, according to a new study from the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

According to the non-profit’s research, current semi-autonomous systems like lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control displayed behaviours ranging from “the irksome, such as too-cautious braking, to the dangerous”.

Five cars were put through their paces as part of the tests: a BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Volvo S90, Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model S. Their adaptive cruise control systems were put through their paces on a track, with the goal of finding out how they handled stopped cars, cars leaving their lane, and the way the accelerate/decelerate.

The first test involved driving at 50km/h towards a stationary car with adaptive cruise turned off, to test the effectiveness of each autonomous emergency braking system. Three of the five cars stopped – only the two Teslas crashed into the stopped dummy car.

With adaptive cruise enabled, all five stopped, although the researchers noted Tesla’s system was earliest to brake and smoothest to stop. The Volvo, meanwhile, pulled 1.1G in deceleration, having left its braking to the last minute.

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