The car industry has made significant advancements in vehicle safety, with in-car systems designed to keep you alive now being marketed as quality-of-life improvements. The technology is not just for concerned parents, it is marketed as next-generation helpers and onboard luxury assets for stressed-out business people. The industry now boasts Level 3 automated systems that are capable of driving the car under limited circumstances with the manufacturer being held liable for any collisions.
There are a few competing systems on the market with aspirational names like Super Cruise and Full Self-Driving, each claiming to make your commute easier. However, the question remains as to whether any of them are worth the considerable price of entry.
BMW’s Highway Assistant, Chevrolet’s Super Cruise, Ford’s BlueCruise, Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Pilot, and Tesla’s Full Self-Driving were all tested. The testing included driving on a fixed loop in New York, as well as a separate loop around Los Angeles for the Mercedes-Benz system. The evaluation included how well each system followed the road and flowed within traffic, how easy it was to engage and disengage, and how quickly it identified a lack of attention by the driver. In all cases, it was noted that the driver is still responsible for the car’s actions, even when the system is engaged.
BMW’s Highway Assistant, which costs $2,100, offers hands-off driving on highways and advanced lane-keep assistance on rural roads. The system is reliant on capacitive touch sensors to detect the driver’s interaction with the wheel, and it occasionally took a long time for the hands-off mode to enable. The system prompts drivers for manual lane changes, but the feature for automatic lane changes is expected in future models.
Chevrolet’s Super Cruise, which costs upwards of $2,200 and $25 per month after 3 years, brings hands-off driving to more mass-market cars, including the Suburban. The system presents an icon when engaged and is nearly instantaneous to activate, with easy disengagement. It can complete lane changes automatically and features robust driver monitoring.
Both systems were noted for their advantages and disadvantages, and each system brings its unique set of features and performance to the table. Despite the high cost, these systems showcase the next phase of vehicular safety and advanced driver assistance.