Tesla Autopilot system fell from the altar?
In Consumer Reports' latest test of ADAS systems from 12 hot-selling brands in the U.S., Tesla's Autopilot system ended up in seventh place.
The systems tested were Ford BlueCruise, GM Super Cruise, Mercedes Driver asistance, BMW Driving Assistance Professsional, Toyota Safety Sence 3.0/Safety System +3.0, Volkswagen Travl Assist/Adaptive cruise assist, Tesla Autopilot, RIVIAN Highway, Nissan ProPILOT Assist, Honda Sensing/AcuraWatch, Volvo Pilot Assist, Hyundai Highway Driving Assist Systems.
Consumer Reports conducted five tests of these systems at the Connecticut Automotive Testing Center between September 2022 and December 2022: function and performance testing, driver attention detection, ease of use, applicability, and driver non-response testing.
Consumer Reports did not set too high a bar for the models tested, requiring only that they be able to use both ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) and LCA (Lane Change Assist), also known as ADAS, on the highway.
After three months of continuous testing, Consumer Reports finally ranked these car companies' ADAS systems, with Ford BlueCruise, GM Super Cruise, and Mercedes-Benz Driver asistance in the top three, and Tesla Autopilot not in the top five.
However, it is worth noting that the Autopilot system used in the test is only the most basic assisted driving function provided by Tesla, in addition, Tesla also provides an enhanced version of assisted driving EPA (domestic purchase price of 32,000 yuan) and fully automatic driving function FSD (domestic purchase price of 64,000 yuan).
With the optional EPA, users can achieve automatic assisted navigation driving, automatic assisted lane changing, automatic parking and intelligent summoning, a feature that is currently available in China. Even FSD Beta is still at the forefront of the industry in the U.S. as it can also achieve fully autonomous driving functions covering city and highway conditions.
Consumer Reports is an authoritative consumer media organization in the United States, this 12 car companies ADAS assisted driving function cross-evaluation took a lot of thought and time, but the choice of Tesla's ordinary "AP" to play with the quasi-L3, obviously unfair, but the specific performance of each test can be referred to see.
Ford tops for the first time, Tesla falls to seventh
ADAS has created a new way for people and systems to drive together. Through the automakers continue to improve the assisted driving system, people's driving will also be safer and more convenient.
According to Consumer Reports, more than 50 percent of vehicle models will have ADAS systems by 2023. Even if a new car is not equipped with an ADAS system as standard, it is likely that consumers will be able to purchase an optional ADAS system.
Therefore, the safety of ADAS systems has become a top priority.
Consumer Reports also did some ranking of the 12 ADAS systems after testing them. Among them, Ford BlueCruise performed well in all tests, with an overall score of 84.
Ford's BlueCruise system, which performs very well on the highway, is a system that takes over the car so it can steer, brake and accelerate.
The vehicle will always stay in the center of the lane, and the system will also slow down or accelerate to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of it. The entire system gave Consumer Reports testers a considerable sense of security.
GM has been developing the SuperCruise system for a long time, and in 2017 it achieved highway hands-off driving in the U.S. It has also twice been named the best driver assistance feature by Consumer Reports, and this time the second-place finish was moderate.
Mercedes-Benz is obviously one of the top stream players in the field of final production autonomous driving, and this year also officially launched the L3 level of assisted driving in the United States, the speed of landing is very aggressive, so Mercedes-Benz Driver asistance system to achieve the third is also expected.
The only surprise is Tesla's Autopilot system, which has fallen from second place in 2020 to seventh place.
Tesla was once the innovator of ADAS with its Assisted Driving System, and Consumer Reports believes that over the years, Tesla has not upgraded its basic features much, and after all this time, Autopilot still does not allow for automatic steering or an effective driver monitoring system.
However, AP is not the only assisted driving system Tesla has introduced so far, there are also EPA and FSD systems, which represent Tesla's true technical strength, but unfortunately Consumer Reports did not add them to the comparison.
Five major evaluation items, safety is still the top priority
1. Function and performance test
This item mainly tests the ability of the vehicle to stay in the center of the lane under LCA (Lane Centering Assist) and the smoothness of adjusting speed behind other vehicles under ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control).
In LCA, Ford BlueCruise, Mercedes-Benz Driver Asistance and Tesla Autopilot systems are all capable of smooth steering and do a good job of keeping the car in or near the center of the lane on both straight and curvy roads.
On the other hand, Hyundai's Highway Driving Assist system performed poorly on that item. Kia and Genesis steering assist was poor, and LCA performed poorly. The vehicle would sway from side to side between lane lines during the test. It also sometimes came inappropriately close to vehicles in adjacent lanes, and at times was sometimes unable to keep the vehicle in its lane when cornering.
The Volvo Pilot Assist system performs poorly on the LCA, often going into standby mode where the system does not provide steering assistance and does not send clear alerts to the driver. This leaves the driver unsure whether the system is providing steering assist, resulting in the driver having to check the instrument panel frequently for verification and not being able to keep their eyes on the road.
The ACC following clearance distance of Mercedes-Benz Driver Asistance and Toyota Sensing/AcuraWatch systems performed well. In particular, the ACC setting of the Mercedes-Benz Driver Asistance system performed best, allowing the driver to adjust acceleration and deceleration, ranking first in terms of individual scores.
GM Super Cruise and BMW Driving Assistance Professsional systems are equipped with a driver monitoring camera, which eliminates the need to re-engage ACC when the vehicle is temporarily stopped due to congestion.
GM Super Cruise and BMW Driving Assistance Professsional also perform very well in ACC function, when the vehicle is temporarily stopped due to congestion, it can still start automatically and continue to move forward, this function can largely reduce the driver's fatigue during low-speed traffic jams.
Tesla Autopilot system ACC can also provide similar functions.
2. Driver attention detection
Advanced assisted driving systems also require drivers to stay focused and actively participate in driving.
Ford BlueCruise and GM Super Cruise systems are far superior to their competitors in terms of driver attention detection. Both use a camera-based driver monitoring system and use head and eye tracking technology to check whether the driver is looking at the road. Some systems without driver monitoring systems simply require the driver to keep his or her hands on the steering wheel at regular intervals.
Ford's BlueCruise system has an infrared camera that monitors the driver's eyes to ensure focus. If the driver takes his or her eyes off the road for more than five seconds, the system will give the driver a visual warning and an audible alert. At the same time Ford will prompt the driver to put their hands back on the wheel before a dangerous scenario, such as a lane merge or curve.
Some Mercedes-Benz models are equipped with driver-oriented cameras to monitor concentration, but the ADAS system continues to operate even when the Mercedes-Benz Driver asistance system thinks the driver is inattentive. And the driver monitoring camera can be turned off when using ADAS.
In addition, Polaris said DDMS (Direct Driver Monitoring System) will be standard on its upcoming 2024 Polestar 3 SUV. Nissan says it has also installed DDMS on its new 2023 Ariya.
3. Ease of use
This item assesses how easy it is for drivers to use the system and adjust settings. It also counts the type and amount of information displayed to the driver and assesses how easy it is for the driver to understand what the system is doing.
The Hyundai Highway Driving Assist system performed best overall in terms of ease of use. Kia has separate controls on the steering wheel that allow the driver to activate ACC and LCA independently, and the driver is able to experience and understand each function on his or her own.
The RIVIAN Highway, BMW Driving Assistance Professsional and Mercedes-Benz Driver asistance systems performed best in terms of data display alone. These vehicle dashboards provide detailed information about lane lines and can, for example, show the distance of the vehicle from the line and surrounding traffic. This helps the driver to understand the behavior of the system.
In contrast, the symbol display on the steering wheel of the Nissan ProPILOT Assist system is not intuitive enough and scores lower in this item.
The latest ADAS systems are safe to use for long-distance highway driving or traffic congestion, while reducing driver fatigue and stress. Although ADAS systems are not usually designed for narrow, curvy roads, most systems can be used in these environments as well.
Ford BlueCruise, GM Super Cruise and Rivian utilize GPS-based geo-fencing to ensure operation in relatively safe driving environments.
There is also a major difference between Ford's BlueCruise and GM's Super Cruise systems, as the GM Super Cruise system can only be used when driving at highway speeds, while Ford's BlueCruise system will be used in a much wider range.
Tesla's Autopilot and Lexus' Safety System+ 3.0 systems work even when there is only one lane line in the middle of the road. These systems attempt to create the "center" of the lane on their own, which is a greater safety hazard.
Volvo Pilot Assist performed even worse, with ACC still controlling the car's speed when the system switched itself to "standby mode", but LCA no longer provided any steering assistance.
5. Driver non-response test
The ADAS system controls the steering and speed of the vehicle while also providing assistance to the driver in an emergency.
This evaluated the effectiveness of warning the driver and taking steering and speed control in an emergency, paying particular attention to how soon the driver first hears the warning after wandering off (since inattentive or sleeping drivers may not see the visual warning).
While most of the systems in the test were unable to monitor the driver's eyes, most vehicles will have a similar mechanism in place to alert or even stop the car if the system thinks the driver is inattentive for an extended period of time.
Ford's BlueCruise system, equipped with DDMS, performed best in identifying when the driver was inattentive. If the system detects that the driver is not looking forward for four to five seconds, an audible warning will be issued.
But if the driver doesn't respond to the warning, Ford's system doesn't bring the car to a complete stop, flash the emergency lights or ask for help. It simply slows the vehicle to 6 mph (about 10km/h) and continues in the same lane.
In contrast, the GM Super Cruise and Mercedes-Benz Driver asistance systems do things differently, bringing the car to a complete stop, turning on the emergency flashers and seeking help when the driver does not respond to the system's prompts, no matter what lane they are currently in.
With the exception of Ford's BlueCruise and GM's Super Cruise systems, none of the other systems also alert the driver if they are simply placed lightly on the steering wheel with minimal pressure.
The Mercedes-Benz Driver asistance and Tesla Autopilot systems take the driver's hand off the wheel for 30 seconds and then send the first audible alert to the driver to put his or her hand back on the wheel.
Some brands even have ADAS systems that allow their vehicles to be driven for long periods of time, and there is no requirement or alert as to whether the hands are on the steering wheel.
The introduction of driver monitoring system, Ford General with this extra points
It is worth noting that the Consumer Reports review included a driver monitoring system for the first time.
Although some ADAS systems can independently perform many driving behaviors, in essence, ADAS systems are still L2 level autonomous driving systems that still require human drivers to perform detection.
Vehicles equipped with ADAS systems also cannot independently handle all unexpected situations, such as when encountering road construction or emergency vehicles, and still require the driver to quickly take over, otherwise it will be very dangerous.
In addition, Pnina Gershon, a scientist at MIT's Center for Transportation and Logistics, points out that data shows that drivers tend to become overly dependent on driver assistance systems after a relatively short period of use. Driver distractions are more common when using driver assistance features.
Therefore, monitoring of the driver's condition becomes very important.
Consumer Reports security experts believe that DDMS is key to the security of any ADAS system. Systems equipped with DDMS received extra points in the review.
The top two ADAS systems rated by Consumer Reports, Ford's BlueCruise (including Lincoln's ActiveGlide) and GM's Super Cruise, both have DDMS (Direct Driver Monitoring System).
This design requires the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road at all times, even when the system is automatically steering, accelerating and braking. Both point infrared cameras at the driver's face, alerting them if the driver is not paying attention to the road, even if only for a few seconds. If the driver doesn't turn his or her eyes back to the road, the system quickly begins to slow the car down.
Most ADAS systems don't adequately monitor the driver. Instead, they only require occasional hand pressure on the steering wheel as a way to verify that the driver is paying attention.
Even some of the systems tested did not require pressing on the steering wheel. Both the Mercedes-Benz Driver asistance system and the Tesla Autopilot system allow the vehicle to be driven automatically on the highway with the hands off the wheel for more than 30 seconds before an audible alert is sent to the driver asking him or her to put his or her hands back on the wheel.
And this can lead to some fatal accidents.
Conclusion: Safety is an important indicator of ADAS system
The development of ADAS system makes driving easier and seems to gradually reduce the driver's involvement in driving, but at this stage the maturity of high-level assisted driving varies from brand to brand, and there are more or less some safety hazards.
The better the assisted driving, the lower the driver involvement will naturally be, but for safety reasons, the driver involvement cannot be too low. The current industry consensus is to increase the driver's direct monitoring system to ensure that the driver can always focus on.