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What-is-ADAS

Dec 7 2020

In the last ten years vehicle technology, specifically in regard to safety features, has become increasingly complex. These advanced vehicle safety features are often bucketed under the category “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems,” more commonly known as ADAS. While the key motivator of this growth has been driver safety, ADAS will play a larger role for those on the business side of automotive in everything from data collection to lending to titling over the next few years. Some of the most popular ADAS features are: braking assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert.

Read on for a better understanding of this advanced safety technology and how it will impact automotive in the years to come.

What is ADAS

ADAS is predominantly comprised of advanced vehicle safety features, such as autonomous braking and lane keeping. While some of these safety features are new, people are often surprised to learn that many of them were started more than 20+ years ago.

Cadillac attempted a collision avoidance system in a late 1950s futuristic porotype called the Cyclone (but scrapped the project due to its high price tag), lane departure warning was developed by a US company "Iteris" in 2000 for Mercedes commercial trucks in Europe, and the first blind spot monitoring system was available in Volvo’s 2005 S80 sedan model.

Though these technologies have been in the works for close to 50 years, vehicle computers have not been advanced enough to handle these features, and the cost to mass produce them has been too great.

Until now.

As the push for self-driving cars has picked up steam, so too has the need for ADAS features at a reasonable price point.

Saving Lives

The key driver behind the rapid growth of ADAS technology has been strict safety requirements brought about by increasing vehicle-related fatalities every year. According to the NHTSA, 35,092 people died on America’s roadways in 2015 and 94% of those vehicle accidents were due to human error. This seems to have been the turning point for vehicle safety equipment regulations.

In 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced that 99% of all new U.S. automobiles will include emergency braking as a standard feature by 2022. The EU is requiring that all cars, vans, trucks, and buses be equipped with at least 15 modern safety features by 2022. Additionally, backup cameras have been required in all new vehicles since May 2018. With the standardization of these ADAS features, especially autonomous braking, we could see a huge shift in the number of vehicle-related fatalities.

How does ADAS work?

So how do these features work and what makes them so effective? ADAS is powered by radar, lidar, and cameras to determine the proximity of surrounding vehicles, as well as advanced car computers that determine when crashes are imminent and how the vehicle should react. Some ADAS systems are passive, only sounding/displaying/vibrating alerts, while others are active, alerting and then, when necessary, making split-second decisions to take action, such as braking or nudging the steering wheel.

What are the most popular ADAS features?

There are several vehicle features that fall under ADAS, and while most of them are related to vehicle safety, some are aimed at convenience, such as parking assistance. Here’s are some of the most widely available ADAS features, as well as a brief description of how they function:

  1. Automatic braking assist – Automatic braking assist, also referred to as automatic emergency braking (AEB), will determine if a forward collision is imminent and will apply the brakes if the driver isn’t taking action to avoid or lower the severity of a crash.. The passive version of this system is Forward Collision Warning, where the vehicle gives a warning but does not actively brake.
  2. Adaptive cruise control – This system will automatically adjust the cruise control speed to maintain of a safe distance from the vehicles ahead.
  3. Lane departure warning / lane keep – This feature helps determine when the vehicle is outside of the lane markings (on well-marked roads) and will either sound/flash/vibrate a warning or provide a warning and actively correct steering to keep the vehicle within its lane.
  4. Blind spot detection – Vehicle cameras, lidar technology, or sonar will detect when another vehicle is in it­s blind spot and will sound/flash/vibrate a warning. Some blind spot monitoring systems will take it a step further and correct the driver if they start to merge into another vehicle.
  5. Rear cross traffic alert – Vehicle radar sensors in the back corners of the vehicle will recognize when there’s an oncoming vehicle from left or right while backing up in a park lot or driveway and will sound/flash/vibrate a warning.

Here are a few other ADAS features that are starting to gain traction, but not as widely available:

  1. Adaptive headlights – Headlights that use sensors to detect the angle of steering and elevation and adjust the headlights appropriately to provide better visibility.
  2. Pedestrian detection – Similar to automatic brake assist, these systems detect pedestrians, provide alerts, and apply brakes if needed. These systems are still a work in progress, but are very important and will likely become standard in the near future.
  3. Night vision – These systems use infrared sensors to detect differences in heat rather than light. This is largely helpful in scenarios where the drive can’t see a deer about to jump into the street, or a pedestrian in the dark. Unfortunately, night vision is only available on luxury vehicles at this point and remains costly.
  4. Driver monitoring system – Also leverages infrared sensors to monitor the driver’s attentiveness and will flash warnings and/or actively brake if the driver does not react.
  5. Traffic sign recognition – This feature leverages forward-facing cameras and character recognition software to scan the road ahead for traffic signs, which are then displayed on the instrument panel or touch screen. This technology is mainly limited to luxury vehicles.

As we continue to see greater government pressure to improve vehicle safety, we can more ADAS features available as standard options, in both luxury and non-luxury brands. This will greatly impact all facets of the auto industry, which will be discussed in the next article in this series.

Check out the next article in the series - Why ADAS is Important to Your Business

ADAS article series index



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