According to a new study from J.D. Power, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) account for 13% of total industry problems in new vehicles. The figures are dramatic, with 23.1 reported ADAS problems per 100 vehicles.
The new J.D. Power 2022 ADAS Quality and Satisfaction Study released Tuesday singles out lane-departure warning/lane-keeping assistance and forward collision warning/automatic emergency braking features as the most likely to have problems. Lane services features were responsible for 6.3 reports per 100 cars, and emergency braking features accounted for 4.6 reported problems per 100 cars.
“Although innovation is important, it is equally important to ensure current technologies, such as collision intervention features, are functioning to the highest degree” said Ashley Edgar, senior director of global automotive supplier benchmarking and alternative mobility at J.D. Power. “If manufacturers want to increase the level of autonomy in the future, today’s features cannot be problematic.”
J.D. Power’s ADAS Study is based on responses from 84,165 purchasers and lessees of new 2022 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study was conducted from February through May.
One reason for customer dissatisfaction with ADAS features could be that drivers do not understand the capabilities and limitations of their vehicles.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports drivers who use partial automation such as lane centering or steering assistance on a regular basis often treat their vehicles as fully self-driving despite widespread warnings and numerous high-profile crashes.
There are no self-driving vehicles available for sale to the public today. Additionally, drivers remain legally responsible for their vehicles at all times, so they are required to pay attention to the road and their cars’ trajectories.
Most partial automation systems consist of two main features designed to assist in highway driving. Adaptive cruise control keeps the vehicle traveling at a set speed, slowing and accelerating automatically to maintain a pre-determined following distance from the vehicles ahead. At the same time, lane centering and curve following tech provides continuous steering support to help keep the vehicle in the middle of the travel lane. Some systems are also capable of performing lane changes and other advanced maneuvers.
IIHS reports regular users of features such as Cadillac Super Cruise, Nissan/Infiniti ProPilot Assist and Tesla Autopilot said they were more likely to perform non-driving-related activities like eating or texting while using their partial automation systems than while driving unassisted.
What concerns the IIHS even more is that 53% of Super Cruise users, 42% of Autopilot users and 12% of ProPilot Assist users said that they were comfortable treating their vehicles as fully self-driving, when the technology offers no such ability.
“The big-picture message here is that the early adopters of these systems still have a poor understanding of the technology’s limits,” said IIHS President David Harkey. “But we also see clear differences among the three owner populations.”
In a massive understatement, Harkey noted, “It’s possible that system design and marketing are adding to these misconceptions.”
Brand marketing rarely helps dispel the misconceptions. IIHS points out that TV commercials for Super Cruise focus on its hands-free capabilities by depicting drivers patting their laps and clapping their hands along with a song, for instance. Evoking the systems used by commercial airplanes, the names Autopilot and Full Self-Driving imply Tesla’s systems are more capable than they really are. In contrast, Nissan’s trade name of ProPilot Assist suggests that it’s an assistance feature, rather than a replacement for the driver.
Still no substitute for a competent driver
Assisted driving technology is still in its infancy. That technology can help steer a car at all is an achievement of engineering. However, IIHS points out that none of the currently available ADAS systems is designed to replace a human driver or to make it safe for a driver to perform other activities that take their focus away from the road.
“Track tests and real-world crashes have provided ample evidence that today’s partial automation systems struggle to recognize and react to many common driving situations and road features,” the IIHS statement reads. “Previous research has also shown that the high level of assistance they provide makes it hard for drivers to remain engaged and tempts them to turn their attention to other things.”