How new ADAS might change vehicle ownership

13 June 2024
Source: Adobe/Metamorworks

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are helping to prevent injuries and death by reducing the amount of car accidents. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, tens of millions of crashes can be prevented using ADAS. Over 30 years, these technologies may prevent up to 14 million injuries and 37 million crashes. According to the National Safety Council, more than half of registered vehicles will have three ADAS systems present by 2027.

Yet, ADAS isn’t just meant for safety, although that is what is driving regulations to adopt them. ADAS technologies are used to increase efficiency and enhance passenger experiences as well. Most people are familiar with the standard ADAS technologies now found in most new cars, such as lane keep assist, automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

Upcoming ADAS technologies to watch for

ADAS continues leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and machine learning algorithms to improve on existing functions. AI will enable more context-aware and adaptive systems. This means object detection, traffic and driver behavior pattern prediction and decision-making abilities should all be enhanced in the coming years. This will instantly make cars safer. More importantly, as AI cars become more common, they will have a shared understanding of vehicle behavior and activity, increasing safety even more.

Of course, AI is best for analyzing data; data that is collected by an array of sensors. Looking solely at LiDAR, radar and camera systems, AI technology can gather more comprehensive data about the surroundings to improve accuracy. These adjustments are most needed when driving in inclement weather conditions or low-light environments where it gets more difficult for the sensors to read accurately.

Think of the sensors working together as the brain and eyes. On a dim, rainy night, a human brain can usually infer where the road lines are, with whatever orientation information is provided by eyes. When used in conjunction, they provide a better understanding of the environment, helping to identify a location, nearby objects and speed. Newer self-driving will also implement inertial measurement units built in that monitor and control acceleration and location in combination with these sensors.

Here are several more examples of the expected upcoming advances.

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communication

More V2X communication tech will be adopted in the future, allowing for more interchanges between vehicles, pedestrians and infrastructure in real-time. Not only does situational awareness become more prevalent, but these functions enhance ADAS features, such as intersection coordination, platooning and cooperative merging. The U.S. Department of Transportation is supporting the deployment and use of V2X technologies through “interoperable connectivity,” ensuring that a varied range of roadside, in-vehicle and mobile technologies can communicate securely, efficiently and remotely.

High-definition mapping

ADAS systems are arriving with more high-definition (HD) maps that enable better localization and planning. The future of HD mapping closely aligns with other technologies, such as AI, edge computing, and 5G connectivity. The detailed information provided by the maps heightens the use of traffic sign recognition, lane boundaries and general road geometry while offering heightened localization accuracy, seamless integration with other sensor modalities and real-time updates. Yet, there have also been some challenges with all of the data collection on ever-changing roadways and difficulty with the scalability of the infrastructure.

Advanced autonomous driving capability

More automakers continue rolling out autonomous driving options, with the most popular known as GM’s SuperCruise, Ford’s BlueCruise and Tesla’s AutoPilot. In the future, these systems will include valet parking functionality and extended highway autopilot capability. There will also be more integration for better urban driving management, as many of them are only intended for highway travel at this time.

Augmented reality visualizations

Augmented reality (AR) interfaces offer drivers more informative and intuitive visualizations, working in conjunction with ADAS data. AR offers navigation, advance hazard warnings and other data in a convenient interface that permits full driver attentiveness.

Biometric driver monitoring

Biometric sensing equipment, such as heart rate monitoring, eye tracking and facial recognition, can driver attentiveness and emotional state. These technologies enable several ADAS technologies. For example, these systems can supply intervention if the driver is inattentive, drowsy or unfocused. Or they can allow a parent to disable features when they hand their car to their teenager. And they can also prevent tampering.

Traffic management

ADAS systems that are better connected can analyze intended routes for detours and delays. With this data, route planning becomes more proactive and better control strategies are implemented to improve traffic flow and enhance road safety.

Cybersecurity protection

Vehicles require greater protection from cyber threats, ensuring the reliability and integrity of the ADAS functions. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Synacktiv executed its TOCTOU attack against Tesla during the Pwn2Own Vancouver 2023 event. Researchers have also demonstrated the vulnerability of camera-based ADAS, allowing them to modify road markings and traffic signs when attacked. For these reasons, automakers will continue upgrading the ADAS and V2X software in the future to prevent cyberattacks from occurring.

ADAS and the effect on ownership

Advanced safety systems profoundly affect ownership in ways that many people don’t expect. Aside from the obvious safety protection, there’s also a significant impact on vehicle longevity. Advanced ADAS features use systems and sensors that prevent collisions. With parking sensors and other parking aids, minor bumps and scrapes can be avoided, reducing the wear on the vehicle. Models with advanced features are also likely to retain a higher resale value. It is probable that maintenance and operations costs will decline, although purchase prices will be higher, versus comparable vehicles today.

Partly due to that, ownership models are sure to change in response to autonomous driving technology. Subscription-based ownership and shared mobility will grow accordingly, reducing how many privately owned vehicles are on the road. Consider that as sustainability endeavors continue, challenges like congestion pricing and a reliance on fledgling electricity infrastructure will make car ownership less attractive for many.

There’s also the question of liability and insurance with ADAS that needs to be addressed. It’s obvious that ADAS technology can significantly reduce the amount and severity of accidents. Insurance companies should see a decrease in payouts, which could mean lower rates for drivers. Providers will prioritize incentives and discounts to drivers with advanced safety technology.

Not everything is positive. There could be a substantial shift in liability because of ADAS technologies. Policies will need to take into account the situations where the ADAS features, the vehicle manufacturer or the driver’s actions contributed to an accident. It may become more difficult to determine where the fault lies.

[Related reading: Who's at fault when self-driving cars make mistakes?]

Also, maintenance will look a lot different. Calibration may be required to keep sensor systems accurate - and there are a lot of sensors. These added service center visits can increase the cost of maintenance, although typically without the need for mechanical parts. And working on ADAS is not a job for the average mechanic. Owners may pay more to go to a specialized mechanic or shop.

Finally, there is going to be a higher dependence on technology, which could impact safety. With vehicles relying more heavily on ADAS features, the drivers may become less aware and conscious of what’s going on around them. And less capable to guide the vehicle should it need to transition functionality back to the human. Additionally, drivers will need to plan for and around OTA software updates. Delaying them on a smartphone is nuisance; delaying them in a vehicle is major hazard.

Where the road lies

There’s no question that the future of ADAS technology is exciting, promising and bright, but it’s not without its challenges. Vehicle manufacturers, owners and insurance companies need to implement better infrastructure and prepare for these changes to occur rapidly. They also need to ensure the security of the vehicle and drivers through comprehensive cybersecurity practices that may take time to develop.

While there may be some growing pains in the implementation of the new technologies, all are designed to bring better precision, improved efficiency and enhanced safety.

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