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Autonomous Cars: New Grading System to Support Drivers Behind the wheel

Thanks to a new grading system launched in October 2020, motorists now have more information to better understand a vehicle’s autonomous and assisted driving capability before purchasing the latest vehicle makes and models off a motor trader forecourt.

Autonomous driving

Due to the number of articles published around the performance of self-driving vehicles in recent years, leading safety experts in their industry, Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP, have responded by launching a ‘Assisted Driver Grading’ reviews to provide motorists with a grading for autonomous vehicles, outlining exactly what they can do and offer.

Thatcham highlighted the “significant potential for car makers to overstate the capability of their current assisted driving technology, and for motorists to misuse it.”

Vehicle systems from various motor trade manufacturers are graded on different criteria over a series of tests for efficiency, then ratings of entry, moderate, good, and very good are awarded to each vehicle depending on its results and performance.

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After the first round of assessments, the Mercedes GLE came out top of the class.

The Test Criteria

Safety Back-up – Does the vehicle protect the driver in the event of an emergency?

Vehicle Assistance – How effective are the vehicle systems?

Driver Engagement – Does the vehicle assesses if the driver is in control of the vehicle?

Highway Assist is one of the systems that is tested, this feature uses ‘Adaptive Cruise Control’ (ACC) and ‘Lane Centering’ (LC) technology to assist motorists when driving on the motorway to maintain a steady speed and keep a safe distance from other vehicles.

Thatcham’s director of research, Matthew Avery, said: “The systems that are currently allowed on our roads are there to assist the driver – but do not replace them. Unfortunately, there are motorists that believe they can purchase a self-driving car today. This is a dangerous misconception that sees too much control handed to vehicles that are not ready to cope with all situations.”

Matthew Avery followed on to say, “The first batch of results show some car makers have developed robust assisted driving systems and that’s good to see. But there are also significant gaps in capability on other vehicles. While the Tesla Model 3 was the best for vehicle assistance and safety back-up, the all-electric car lost points for overselling its ‘Autopilot’ system, which was found to discourage drivers from engaging when behind the wheel.”

Mr Avery added, “Clarity is therefore required to make sure drivers understand the capability and performance of current assisted systems. Its crucial today’s technology is adopted safely before we take the next step on the road to automation. There are safety and insurance implications that must be considered seriously.”