Collisions involving “Autopilot”-style driver assistance systems – ETSC welcomes publication of Dutch Safety Board investigation

  • December 2, 2019

ETSC has welcomed a new report by the Dutch Safety Board that warns of multiple safety risks posed by advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as Tesla Autopilot.

The conclusion of a two-year long investigation which encompassed multiple real-world crash investigations, the report raises a number of questions about the safety of ADAS systems, notably those that combine features such as automated cruise control with lane keeping and automated braking.

Among the issues raised by the report are:

– human factor problems such as driver overestimation, misunderstanding and misuse as well as driver disengagement from the driving task;

– systems that can be and are activated in situations that they cannot cope with – such as unseparated highways with roundabouts;

– a lack of transparency over the design, capabilities and effectiveness of these systems;

– questions over regulatory oversight, over-the-air updates that change functionality, and driver training.

Commenting on the report, Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the European Transport Safety Council said:

“This report should be essential reading for EU and global regulators.  We don’t believe that the new risks that systems like Tesla Autopilot are creating are being considered to a full extent by EU or global regulatory bodies. We need much more oversight with regard to how these systems are regulated.  The new European Commission should urgently review how these systems are approved, look into the ways in which ADAS systems are being used on the roads of Europe today, do more to get data on how these systems are implicated in collisions, and ensure that measures are taken to ensure drivers fully understand the capabilities of the systems installed in their car.”

Who is in control? Road safety and automation in traffic, Dutch Safety Board, 28 November 2019