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For ADAS to reach safety potential, auto industry must get consumers to buy in

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There’s a lot riding on advanced driver-assistance technology to reduce road fatalities. The global market is expected to reach $60 billion by 2026. Despite it being a concentrated area of development for many automakers, only 20 percent of drivers begin the buying process seeking out a driver-assistance-equipped vehicle. That figure demonstrates the consumer education gap and must represent a turning point for automotive manufacturers. If only 20 percent of buyers go on to a purchase vehicle with driver-assist technology enabled, how can automakers continue to justify investment in improved safety features, and how do they change consumer perception to convey the critical safety value?

The industry must start with transparency so consumers can understand a vehicle’s capabilities and limits. Camera technologies are most common in vehicles today with advanced driver-assistance features, but they are limited to analyzing the visible conditions in front of and surrounding a vehicle. Similar to the human eye, a camera is subject to the environment it’s operating in — harsh lighting, inclement weather and obstructed views all skew the performance of the technology, putting both driver and pedestrian at risk.

GPS and Global Navigation Satellite System sensors, which function off a satellite interface, are popular for determining where a vehicle is on Earth but don’t work when centimeter-level accuracy is required and can be unreliable in areas where service is blocked, such as urban canyons, parking garages and off-roading sites.

Lidar technology is tiptoeing into luxury vehicles operating at Level 2+ and Level 3 autonomy because of stubborn cost levels and issues common with cameras such as identifying objects unobstructed by common road conditions including rain or snow. Consumer understanding of these performance trade-offs will help consumers view driver-assist systems as helpful, not bothersome or harmful.

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