UK road safety organisation calls for clarity on AV and ADAS terminology

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Automotive research center Thatcham Research is calling on car manufacturers to take care not to describe their ADAS features as ‘autonomous’, as this might mislead consumers and cause them to put more faith in their cars than they should.

Matthew Avery, head of research at Thatcham Research, said, “We are starting to see real-life examples of the hazardous situations that occur when motorists expect the car to drive and function on its own. Specifically, where the technology is taking ownership of more and more of the driving task. But the motorist may not be sufficiently aware that they are still required to take back control in problematic circumstances.”

The organisation says that terminology and names such as Autopilot and ProPilot, which are used in marketing material and owner’s literature, suggest reliable, fully autonomous systems when the cars only have advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) features.

“Absolute clarity is needed, to help drivers understand the when and how these technologies are designed to work and that they should always remain engaged in the driving task,” Avery commented.

Avery added that it is a legal issue, too: “Fully automated vehicles that can own the driving task from A to B, with no need for driver involvement whatsoever, won’t be available for many years to come. Until then, drivers remain criminally liable for the safe use of their cars and as such, the capability of current road vehicle technologies must not be oversold.”

By Illya Verpraet

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