Driver assistance features: The perfect stepping stone to acceptance of AVs?

Technology and Business

Alice Salter

Alice Salter



In this article, we look at the link between advanced driver assisted systems (ADAS) and AVs and ask:

  • How do we overcome hesitancy around autonomous vehicles (AVs)?
  • Does full trust in ADAS come before acceptance of AVs?
  • How can we improve the relationship between driver and ADAS?


Though our fully driverless future may still seem some way off, autonomous vehicles are developing at an incredible speed. Public acceptance, and eagerness to travel in those AVs though, seems to have hit a stumbling block. In our own research, we discovered that questions around safety are still limiting acceptance of driverless technology among the general public.


Interestingly, advanced driver assisted systems (ADAS), which automate just small parts of the driving process, don’t seem to face the same questions. Having now been with us for decades, we wonder, are driver assistance features the key to widespread acceptance of AVs?

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How do we overcome hesitancy around AVs?

Research suggests this time alone could be the solution to lingering hesitancy around self-driving vehicles, with time in market building trust and younger people more open to new tech. Some, however, suggest that a significant shift in public attitude following a few prominent crashes will only come from a concerted effort, and plenty of good publicity, from manufacturers.


As a result of these two concepts, a new conversation has arisen. The contrasting perception of AVs and ADAS is something that’s sparked debate across the industry as where a reluctance to use, or at least be the first to use, driverless tech seems the norm, ADAS are commonly accepted.


While the proportion of vehicles equipped with these driver assistance features worldwide remains low, at around 10%, the market is rapidly expanding. In the US, it’s doubling around every five years. With all that in mind, there are now many who believe the road to successfully adopting AVs starts with ensuring maximum trust in ADAS.


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ADAS: Safe automation?


To understand why these assistance features have been more readily accepted, we must first understand precisely what it is they do.


Essentially, the electronic systems use advanced technologies to assist the driver in manual vehicles. We see ADAS at work in our vehicles’ active safety features, such as anti-lock braking, the first feature to be introduced, and cruise control.


Using sensors, radar and cameras, ADAS also enable the driver to become more aware of the world around them without doing so much of the hard work. These features can both alert the driver to take action and trigger an automatic action based on what the technology deems best. There are varying degrees of action ADAS will take; your vehicle may warn you when you’re drifting over lane markers, or allow you to let go of the wheel as it takes on the tricky task of parallel parking for you.


It's easy to see how the convenience and added safety of such features might prompt people to feel more relaxed about giving away control. That is perhaps why over 90 percent of new vehicles today are sold with at least one advanced safety system. And it’s safety which seems to be the biggest selling point for ADAS.


Research shows ADAS-equipped vehicles experience a 27% reduction in bodily injury claim frequency, and a 19% reduction in property damage frequency. Not only this, but a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found the crash involvement rate for vehicles with blind-spot monitoring was 14% lower than the same models without ADAS. There is good reason, therefore, to trust the capabilities of ADAS. The key question for us is, will this growing trust prompt increased confidence in this technology’s more developed partner, fully autonomous vehicles?

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How can we improve the relationship between driver and ADAS?


It's here that the ADAS hits something of a stumbling block, though arguably less significant than that in the world of self-driving. While the technology is being readily accepted by plenty of consumers, there’s still a shared concern that ADAS are fallible and are not, as yet, working perfectly.


In 2018, an in-depth study found that up to 77% of us don’t believe in the reliability of advanced driver assistance systems. With many experiencing issues with the ADAS they use day to day, confidence in the automation of any driving feature is undoubtedly questioned. It’s natural to assume that should consumers experience repeated issues with a lower-level system like lane-keeping assist or blind-spot detection, they are less likely to trust a fully driverless vehicle.


Looking at it another way, all this seems to suggest that one route towards mass adoption of AVs is ensuring experiences with ADAS are as close to perfect as possible. Tarik Bolat, at TechCrunch, for example, believes that addressing issues in ADAS technologies will result in better driving experiences and increased confidence in AVs. He says, “To meet the projected timelines and start building this critical trust today, automakers should accelerate the adoption of autonomous capabilities into advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). By using higher-performing ADAS as a pathway to mass AV adoption, we can arrive at the destination safely.”


Based on the available research, we’re inclined to agree. After all, trust in automated features and the incremental relinquishing of control they represent, should make drivers feel more secure as they are left in full control of less and less of the actual driving. The leap from effective ADAS to AV will then not loom quite so large.

That said, while ADAS clearly impacts the wide acceptance of AVs, there remains a huge technological leap between the two. Ultimately, there will come a point where consumers have to just trust in driverless technology, but it seems likely ADAS is the key to preparing them.



What do you think? Are advanced driver assistance systems the key to mass acceptance of driverless technology?

Do you use them already? Will effective ADAS prepare us to relinquish more control to our vehicles?


Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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