The irreversible drive toward safer and safer driving
From NCAP ratings to high-definition maps that power autonomous driving, location technology is driving innovations that help make driving safer, whatever the vehicle.
You are driving down a street you don't know, and there are no road signs. You think you can guess the speed limit based on other similar journeys, but you might be wrong.
Thanks to its connected map, your car warns you that the speed limit is different than the one you had assumed. It then advises you to move into a different lane and prepare to turn right. You are able to do so safely with plenty of time and without inadvertently going too fast.
It is new features like these that led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to declare that “new cars are safer cars."
And in Europe, the Vision Zero project — a world without deaths or serious injuries from crashes, ideally by 2050 — acknowledges the role of technology in vehicle safety.
HERE360 spoke to Sjoerd Spaargaren, Product Marketing Manager for Automated Driving at HERE, about some of the ways innovation is making it safer on the roads.
HD (high-definition) maps are being used at the forefront of automated driving so that vehicle manufacturers can progress through the six SAE Levels of Driving Automation™ without putting drivers, passengers or anyone nearby at risk.
“Automakers are gradually moving up the SAE levels," Spaargaren said. “The first production vehicles have been launched with Level 3 automated driving rights for Mercedes-Benz — and BMW will launch similar capabilities later this year or early in 2024."
Both automakers are using HERE HD Live Map to help the vehicle understand with the highest level of precision where it is on the road. Automakers can define and manage under which operating conditions automated driving functionalities can be safely activated using HERE Automated Driving Zones, which works in combination with map content.
“These are the latest advancements in technology from a safety perspective," Spaargaren said. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have a particular motivation to get the safety right as we move up levels of automation, because of the question of liability when the car rather than the driver is in charge. Right now, the vehicle can only take over in certain controlled conditions.
They make driving safer even while OEMs figure out how to progress to higher SAE Levels of Driving Automation™ in the coming years. For now, that has been easier to achieve on highways than in urban areas with many distractions, unpredictable road users and obstacles to contend with.
Dynamic services, such as traffic information, might seem at first glance like a convenience offering but they can also make driving safer.
“If you're sitting in the car and you know that there's a traffic jam up ahead, you can start to lower your speed, or you can change your route," Spaargaren explained.
Information about weather conditions, which HERE also provides thanks to data from sensors we get from automakers, can play a similar function. Not only might a driver change the route they take, but they may use the warning to decide to take a different mode of transportation altogether.
In fact, the more information the driver has about both static events such as upcoming roundabouts, or changeable events like fog or rain, the easier it is for the driver to plan around them.
Some conditions have an impact on speed. It is now mandatory for new cars in the EU to include Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), another tool that helps drivers avoid danger. The legal speed limit must be visible to drivers at all times, even when there is no clear road sign on view — and it must be at least 90% accurate.
“The more that people are informed, the better they are able to make the right decisions," Spaargaren said.
New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) ratings are another way the industry is moving toward greater safety. While voluntary, these programs give cars a rating between one and five stars based on how they perform in safety tests. Europe's NCAP recently updated its requirements for Safety Assist Systems, with additions for local hazards and road features as well as high update frequencies in ISA systems.
“There are many factors that consumers consider when purchasing a new vehicle," Spaargaren said. “But NCAP ratings are independent, and allow them to compare cars with each other."
“Location intelligence really helps to make a car safer and more trustworthy."
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