Euro NCAP releases new Test Results of Highway Assist Systems
Updated: Apr 7, 2022
Euro NCAP has released Assisted Driving gradings of seven cars equipped with Highway Assist. The best performer was the BMW iX3 graded as 'Very Good', followed by two other models, the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the CUPRA Formentor, that achieved "good".
The assist systems of other car models produced average and low grades. For example, the Polestar 2 and the Hyundai IONIQ 5 are graded as 'Moderate', while the Toyota Yaris and Opel Mokka-e offer 'Entry' level systems.
Highway Assist systems help the driver to maintain a steady speed, to keep a safe distance from the car in front and to keep the vehicle in the centre of the lane by combining (intelligent) Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Lane Centering (LC).
Highway Assist systems are designed to assist the driver, a driver is expected to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. Euro NCAP tests the car's ability to assist and promote safer driving and evaluates how the system engages the driver and, if the unexpected happens, what safety backup is offered by the vehicle.
The technology has gone mainstream in recent years and is now available on cars in all categories. However, in its previous rounds of Assisted Driving tests in 2018 and 2020, Euro NCAP found some vehicles promised more than they could deliver, implying, through their naming and interaction with the driver that they provide more automation than they were capable of doing. However, all the cars tested in this round offer a balance between Assistance Competence – the degree to which the system can help the driver – and Driver Engagement – the extent to which the driver feels they must remain in control and not disengage from the driving task.
"This balance between assistance and engagement is crucial. Cars are not yet capable of fully automated driving and drivers should not be misled into thinking that they are. Reports from America have highlighted the very serious problems that can happen when people have an unrealistically high expectation of what such systems can offer, and when the car in which they are driving does not actively try to get them back in the loop. We are pleased that the manufacturers represented in this round of tests make clear the level of support that they can provide."
Said Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary-General of Euro NCAP.
Euro NCAP noted that the iX3, the electric variant of the BMW X3 range, has as standard a new sensor-set which delivers its Very Good level of assisted driving. The same sensor set is offered on combustion-engined X3s as an option.
Also commenting on the Polestar 2, which achieved a moderate grading, limited by its performance in Vehicle Assistance. However, polestar has said they will perform an over-the-air (OTA) update of the car's software very soon, and Euro NCAP says it looks forward to assessing the upgraded vehicle when the OTA has been provided.
Euro NCAP noted that whilst entry-level vehicle assistance offered less functionality than more sophisticated systems, the systems can still provide the driver with a practical level of support.
Euro NCAP says its tests are set against a rapidly changing legislative background. Technology is developing very quickly, and the degree of automation allowed and what action the car must take when, for example, it tries to hand control back to an unresponsive driver is being reviewed. Euro NCAP says its future tests will take these regulatory changes into account.