The stepping stones towards fully autonomous vehicles are already in place on our roads in the form of lane keep assist, automated braking and other forms of crash avoidance technology; but the question remains, do they work in the real world?
That is what both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) want to find out, and to do so, the IIHS is investing $30 million to build a new test track specifically for testing crash avoidance technology.
But defining which system is best and most effective, is a challenge that still faces both agencies. “For every one of the things that we have asked automakers to do to get a Top Safety Pick, we have real data behind it that says: ‘You will be at lower risk of dying in a crash in this vehicle,'” said Joe Nolan, head of the IHS research center. “When we start getting to predictive ratings, we just become salesmen. And there’s plenty of those out there.”
Many automakers, including Mitsubishi, Mazda, Toyota, Subaru, Volvo and Audi now have some type of automatic braking to help avoid collisions, but the lack of an impartial rating system makes it hard for consumers to differentiate how each system works. This is especially important for automakers because some of these safety packages can cost more than $2000, quite a bit of money to drop on a system that is only vouched for by the company selling it.
Early results from the IIHS show that Volvo vehicles equipped with the City Safety automatic braking system have about 15 percent fewer insurance claims than comparable cars, though this data could be skewed by numerous factors.
The IIHS’s test track is slated to be finished by the end September, while NHTSA has just begin to study its own testing procedures and how new automatic safety systems might fit in. It will probably be years before any concrete ratings system is established.
[Source: Automotive News]