Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) for vehicles should be mandatory only if they aid road safety, automobile experts say as the issue is considered during an ongoing review of European Union automobile safety rules.
The EU’s executive body, the European Commission, is currently revising the 28-country bloc’s regulation of type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles. The issue also has been debated by the European Parliament, which in November called for the compulsory installation of “certain driver-assistance systems” to reduce the roughly 25,000 deaths caused annually by road accidents in the EU.
A spokesman for ACEA, the European automakers’ group, is calling for regulations to be reformed with care.
The ACEA “would like to underline the need for detailed cost-benefit analyses and proper impact assessments of all safety measures that are being considered,” the spokesman tells WardsAuto. That way, the most effective safety measures causing the “greatest impact” should be selected.
“Advanced driver-assistance systems that can avoid or mitigate accidents, such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane-departure warning, can indeed make an important contribution to further improving road safety,” he says.
“However, given that ADAS also covers comfort systems, such as autonomous cruise control (which are not safety systems), ADAS technologies that ‘only’ provide additional comfort for the driver should be excluded” from general safety regulation (GSR) revisions and not made mandatory, the spokesman says.
The European Association of Automotive Suppliers agrees, with a spokesman saying the trade group “specifically supports the new safety features provided for the GSR update,” but “‘comfort’ features should not become mandatory.”
This spokesman notes safety technology can and is made mandatory under EU type-approval laws; for example, since Nov. 1, 2014, all new passenger cars had to have tire-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). Looking ahead, separate ADAS features such as drowsiness monitoring also would “probably be mandatory.”
But “nothing is existing or planned” for other features such as seatbelt reminders or turning assistance, the suppliers’ group spokesman suggests.
“TPMS, AEB, ESC (electronic stability control), ABS (antilock braking systems) and BAS (brake-assistance systems) are regulated, but limited to specific classes” of vehicles under EU type-approval rules, the spokesman says. “By updating GSR, the cost-effectiveness of extending these regulations to all vehicle classes will be evaluated.”
A European Commission spokesperson says officials are assessing the opinions gathered from a public-comment period on changing EU auto safety rules that closed in October.
“The Commission is now analyzing the responses, studying new emerging safety technologies and assessing the cost/benefit impact of any new measures before deciding on any potential next steps,” the official says. The EC is to release a proposal for reforms in May.
These proposals will include rules on installing AEB and lane-keeping assistance systems on cars and vans, intelligent speed-assistance-detection systems and driver-distraction or drowsiness recognition systems in cars, vans, buses and trucks.
The list is not exhaustive, and any proposal will be subject to possible amendments by the EU Council of Ministers and European Parliament.
Economies of Scale Will Keep Lid on ADAS Costs, Supporter Says
European Parliament member Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, a Christian Democrat from Germany who steered debates and votes on a European Parliament report on the issue called “Saving Lives: Boosting Car Safety in the EU,” acknowledges compulsory ADAS rules must “make a genuine contribution to road safety, have a favorable cost-benefit ratio and attain market maturity.”
Automatic emergency braking systems, already mandatory for new trucks and buses, were deemed most important. But they also should be able to detect moving obstacles, especially pedestrians and cyclists, and be mandatory for cars and light-commercial vehicles, Koch says.
Koch also is urging mandatory installation of emergency braking displays, intelligent speed assistant (ISA), lane-keeping assistance, seatbelt reminders, TPMS and turning assistance for heavy vehicles and buses.
He assures WardsAuto that such rules would make economic sense. “The price of new vehicles will not shoot up as a result of the mandatory installation, since some of the systems use the same technology.” For example, intelligent speed assistant and lane-keeping assistance use the same camera and sensors.
“Additionally, if systems are mandatory, manufacturers have to buy a high volume of components for all cars they produce, therefore the cost will fall.”
But Koch accepts that competitive pressures on price are keeping this technology out of many vehicles sold in Europe. ABS and ISA are available across all car classes, not just high-end models. But because of cost, three-quarters of new cars sold in Europe do not contain these features.
Figures released recently by the U.K.-based Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders are more positive, however. “Nearly seven in 10 new cars are available with driver-assistance systems, either as standard or as an optional extra,” the trade group claims in a statement released Jan. 22.
The data, from SMMT and automotive business-intelligence company JATO Dynamics, shows 1.8 million new auto buyers in the U.K. benefited from collision-avoidance technology in 2016. In addition, AEB was available on 53.1% percent of new cars, overtaking sensors were available to 42.1% of buyers and parking-assistance technology was an option for 58.8% of new cars sold in the U.K. that year.
Technology due in showrooms in 2018 includes Audi’s traffic-jam pilot, where the car takes over driving in slow-moving traffic; smartphone or key fob-controlled remote parking and pre-collision warning systems to detect vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, the SMMT notes.
The future for ADAS is bright, according to independent expert David Bailey, a professor of industrial strategy at the University of Birmingham’s Aston Business School.
“More and more new cars already have ADAS features – think of electronic stability control, antilock brakes, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and traction control, while the next-generation of ADAS uses wireless network connectivity to offer V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) or V2X (vehicle-to-infrastructure) communication.
“Increasingly, such features will become mandatory so as to improve safety,” Bailey tells WardsAuto. “Setting such standards in a big market like Europe can underpin confidence about a direction of travel and encourage manufacturers to make the necessary investment in new technologies.”