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We need better drivers, not self-driving cars

06 Nov 2015  | Thomas Claburn

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McKinsey surveyed 5,500 recent car buyers across China, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United States and found that among the few drivers who already have access to assistive technology, there's high satisfaction and willingness to repurchase.

The firm categorises advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in four tiers of escalating complexity:

  • vision assistance (birds-eye view displays, transparent window pillars, night vision displays and adaptive high beams)
  • warnings and alerts (drowsiness alerts, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring and various collision warnings)
  • adjustments (pre-crash cabin adjustments, braking assistance, lane-changing assistance and wake-up adjustment)
  • intervention (lane keeping, advanced emergency steering, road hazard avoidance, adaptive cruise control, advanced emergency braking and pulling over when drowsiness is detected)

Many of these features can be found in current cars such as the 2016 Volvo XC90 and other high-end models. Tesla's version 7.0 software, released earlier this month, implements an autopilot system that can steer within a lane, change lanes on command and manage speed through traffic awareness.

To facilitate adoption of ADAS technology, McKinsey's report argues, carmakers need to prioritise cyber-security. They need to be transparent about how their systems collect and store data.

"Like with any new technology introduction, carmakers and their respective suppliers need to earn or maintain the trust of the consumers," said Kaas, emphasising the need for testing and validation of the software running assist technologies and for consumer education about potential benefits.

Humans need to engage with and direct their machines, not be driven by them.

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