‘Hands Free’: Automakers race to the next level not to take self-driving cars

DETROIT (Reuters) – Autopilot, Propilot, Coilip: Automakers have several names for new systems that allow hands-free driving, but no safety or performance standards to follow as they move into a generation in vehicle technology Make the most important changes.

The GM test driver sits in a 2021 Cadillac Escalade SUV with Super Cruise hands-free driving assistance from General Motors. General Motors / Handout via REUTERS

Sponsored by Tesla Inc.TSLA.OIndustry officials said that eager to start making profits from billions spent on autonomous driving research, automakers are accelerating plans to automate routine driving tasks and make them widely available within five years Have been.

Traditional automakers worried about claims of product liability had recently protested against allowing drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel for extended periods. Now, hands-free driving system automakers and suppliers such as Aptiv Plc (APTV.N), Especially when this technology is packed with other additional cost options.

IHS Chief Analyst Jeremy Carlson said, “Consumers are prepared to pay extra – sometimes a lot of money – for advanced technology and facilities that focus on convenience.”

To address concerns about liability, some vehicle manufacturers are installing cameras inside vehicles with warning systems to ensure that drivers are prepared to have manual controls when necessary.

Critics allege that technology is being deployed in a regulatory vacuum to automate highway driving, parking and navigation in stop-and-go traffic where the absence of industry-wide standards and common terminology leads to the illusion that What the system can safely do.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in a written reply to Reuters, said it was still collecting research and data on hands-free technologies, stating that the formal federal standards requirement was “not sufficiently mature.” ” Huh.

Former head of NHTSA Mark Roskind said the industry may need to develop the technology further before requiring a federal mandate, but agreed things are misleading to consumers.

“If people don’t know what they’ve got and how it actually operates, it’s a safety issue,” said Rosekind, chief security innovation officer at self-driving startup Zox, which Amazon.com Inc. Being acquired by (AMZN.O).

Jason Levine, head of the Center for Auto Safety Advocacy Group, said NHTSA should develop minimum performance standards. “Even though consumers know what the feature has to do, there is no standard to ensure that it is performing as advertised as well,” he said.

Tesla’s Autopilot, one of the industry’s first semi-automatic driving systems, has been criticized by the National Transportation Safety Board for allowing drivers to divert their attention off the road, causing fatal accidents. NHTSA investigated 15 crashes from 2016 involving autopilot-equipped Tesla vehicles.

The autopilot was initially promoted as “hands-free”, but Tesla immediately shifted that position and now insisted that drivers have to put their hands on the steering wheel when the autopilot was deployed. On Tuesday, a German court banned Tesla from repeating misleading claims in advertisements about its driver assistance systems, including that its vehicles were capable of autonomous driving.

In the absence of rules or standards, a group including JD Power, Consumer Reports and AAA are trying to convince automakers to agree on standard terminology and definitions, an initiative endorsed by the US Department of Transportation and the Society of Automotive has gone.

But even the top industry research groups do not agree on the label. Instead of “hands free”, JD Power uses the term “active driving assistance”, while IHS Markit prefers “extended-off driving”.

Detroit automakers have been less aggressive than Tesla in labeling their semi-automatic driving systems.

According to JD Power’s Kristin Collage, a growing number of consumers are purchasing or leasing new vehicles with Advanced Driving Assistance Systems, including Automated Lane Keeping (70% of new vehicles) and Adaptive Cruise Control (77%), two. Other components are included. Most hands-free driving systems.

Automakers say that the widespread deployment of automated driving technology will give consumers fewer accidents and lower auto insurance rates. Until now, insurance providers have been cautioned that they need more data to show that technology reduces costs related to accidents.

“We are looking at it from the security point of view. Do these technologies improve the safety of people who are on the roadway? “Said David Harke, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research arm of the insurance industry.

Reporting by Ben Kelman and Paul Leinet in Detroit; Editing by Matthew Lewis

Our standard:Thomson Reuters Trust Theory.