AAA recommends limiting use of partially automated driving systems

AAA recommends limiting use of partially automated driving systems
© Greg Nash

AAA is recommending that the use of partially automated driving systems be limited after tests showed they do not always work accurately.

Researchers for the group investigating partially automatic driving systems from five manufacturers ran the vehicles over a distance of 4,000 miles, and found problems occurring every eight miles, according to a release from AAA.

The researchers found the most problems with systems that are meant to keep vehicles in their proper lanes and prevent collision with other cars and trucks. 

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AAA found significant problems during simulations where it placed a broken-down car in the vehicle's path. It reported that about two-thirds of the time, a test vehicle would strike the stalled car at an average speed of 25 mph.

Their findings also showed that partially automated systems combined with controls on acceleration, braking and steering would often quit working without immediately prompting drivers, which could lead to dangerous accidents if drivers are not fully aware in an emergency.

“AAA has repeatedly found that active driving assistance systems do not perform consistently, especially in real-world scenarios,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering. “Manufacturers need to work toward more dependable technology, including improving lane keeping assistance.”

The vehicles AAA tested this year were a 2019 BMW X7 SUV, a 2019 Cadillac CT6 sedan, a 2019 Ford Edge SUV, a 2020 Kia Telluride SUV and a 2020 Subaru Outback SUV, each with their own patented partially automated driving systems.

BMW told The Associated Press that its X7 system performed the way it was designed, according to the trials, adding, "BMW requires that the driver remain fully at attention in order to intervene in the case of an emergency situation."

Subaru also told the AP its system “is designed to assist the driver, not replace the driver, when confronting hazards.”

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GM maintained confidence in its "Super Cruise" system, telling The Hill that "the driver attention system supports proper usage by an attentive driver with their eyes on the road so that the driver can take control of the steering wheel when needed or respond to unexpected events in the road."

Kia released a statement to The Hill, noting that while the company is focused on advancing partially automated driving systems to become safer, "it is critical that drivers fully understand the system’s capabilities and limitations as well as their responsibilities."

A spokesperson for Ford told The Hill the company values customer feedback and insights from AAA, adding that it utilizes feedback to "continuously improve our vehicles and features."