The Name Game
Many consumers may not realize that some Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) have been available for nearly 30 years. This technology, however, has only become commonplace more recently as these systems now come standard on many new cars. With at least one of these features, like automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance, now available on 93 percent of new vehicles, it is becoming increasingly important for consumers to have a solid understanding of their functionality. But, clever marketing names coupled with a lack of consensus by industry regulatory groups, has made it difficult for consumers to determine what features a vehicle has and how they actually work.
Confusion among consumers, especially when it comes to the naming of these systems is a larger issue than some may realize. AAA found that 40 percent of Americans expect partially automated driving systems, with names like Autopilot, ProPILOT or Pilot Assist, to have the ability to drive the car by itself. In reality, the intent of ADAS features is to assist in the driving task to help reduce the likelihood, or mitigate the severity of a crash with another vehicle – not to drive the car itself. Vague or unclear naming of these systems will only continue to widen the gap between what consumers believe the technology can do and its actual capabilities.
AAA conducted research to gain a better understanding of the growing prevalence of ADAS technology in new vehicles as well as to examine the terminology currently used by regulatory organizations and manufacturers. AAA analyzed 34 vehicle brands sold in the United States to identify the number of unique names manufacturers use to market ADAS. For example, automatic emergency braking, which was standard on 31 percent of 2018 vehicles, has 40 names just for this one feature. Other popular systems like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance and blind spot warning have nearly 20 individual names for each.
These results highlight the need for more common naming and definitions for ADAS features. AAA is working with a coalition of auto and safety organizations to create universal, consistent terminology to provide clarity to consumers about what type of technology a vehicle has as well as when and how to safely use it. Standardized naming will also help create a consistent experience for consumers when driving a car other than their own. As a driver today, it is important to take a proactive approach and become familiar with these new technologies and how they work, especially before getting behind the wheel of a new or rental vehicle with ADAS technologies. Being better informed will help drivers get the most out of their vehicles while staying safe on the road. The full report and an AAA proposed list of names and definitions can be found here.