Active safety systems are proliferating and Volvo is among the OEMs leading the way

Active safety systems are proliferating and Volvo is among the OEMs leading the way

As vehicle makers and suppliers bring more Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) to the market, drivers are experiencing new technologies that will fundamentally reshape the driving experience over the next ten years, according to just-auto's research unit, QUBE.

The most common suite of driver assistance technologies available today includes adaptive cruise control (ACC), lane departure warning systems, automated emergency braking and parking assistance systems. They are becoming much more available in the global new vehicle market as standard or optional features.

ACC is one example of an ADAS technology gaining rapid market acceptance. ACC relies on radar or laser technology to track a vehicle ahead and maintain a safe gap. It lets the car hold a speed but adjusts to changing traffic conditions with automatic braking and acceleration. Good for safety and good for taking some of the drudgery out of driving.

"Adaptive cruise control is a good example of an ADAS technology moving from large cars and premium brands into mass market segments," says QUBE analyst Matthew Beecham.

 "Vehicle manufacturers are facing competitive pressures to include advanced safety and driver assistance features on mid-range vehicles. ACC is available on the Ford Focus, which has been something of a milestone in terms of rollout in the C-segment. Increasingly, there is no reason to consider driver assistance as a luxury status symbol. We need the best possible safety in all cars."

Western Europe leads the way on ACC fitment (estimated at 12.5% of all light vehicles produced in the region in 2015 and that share is expected to grow to almost 20% by 2025).

 "We can see the technology beginning to become more established in North America and other parts of the world," says Beecham.

"The Japanese market also shows strong market demand for driver assistance technologies," he adds. "Traffic density is also higher in Japan, triggering demand for technologies such as ACC with stop-and-go functionality."

Advanced features such as ACC that rely on smart laser and radar technologies are also pointing the way to autonomous vehicles that require very little or no driver input. "It's an exciting time for engineers," says Beecham. "The driving experience faces unprecedented change being wrought by these advanced new technologies.

"Later this decade Highway Autopilot systems will automatically control speed, steering and will be able to exit the motorway at a junction pre-determined by the driver. Intersections could get a lot easier when cars start to communicate with external infrastructure and each other. And cars that find a parking space and park themselves are also coming.

“Not only does this smart automation offer more safety and the possibility of an enhanced experience for the de-stressed driver, but it can also reduce road congestion and benefit the environment.

"From around 2020 we'll see cars offering a high degree of autonomy coming to the market as a natural extension of the ADAS systems that are impacting the market right now."

He adds that suppliers and vehicle makers face the need to adjust to rapidly changing market conditions and customer demands. "It's a highly competitive marketplace, of course," he says. "But we also have to add in the regulatory landscape to the mix. There is still a long way to go on how some of this technology will be allowed to operate. The companies that accurately anticipate the trends across the global marketplace will be the eventual winners."