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Automated systems need stronger safeguards to keep drivers focused on the road

16 March 2020

Story from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has issued a set of research-based safety recommendations on the design of partially automated driving systems. The guidelines emphasize how to keep drivers focused on the road even as the vehicle does more of the work.

Today's partially automated systems still need the driver to be involved at all times. That means they need robust methods of monitoring driver engagement and more effective ways of regaining the driver's attention when it wanders. Designs should also be based on a principle of shared control, and they should have built-in limits that prevent them from being used on roads and under conditions where it isn't safe to do so, IIHS researchers say.

As part of that philosophy of shared control, partially automated systems shouldn't change lanes or overtake other vehicles without driver input. They should also be responsive to driver steering input even when automatic lane centering is engaged.

"Unfortunately, the more sophisticated and reliable automation becomes, the more difficult it is for drivers to stay focused on what the vehicle is doing," says IIHS President David Harkey. "That's why systems should be designed to keep drivers actively engaged."

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