Cars are getting smarter and more capable. They’re even starting to drive themselves, a little. And they’re becoming a cause of concern for European and American safety agencies and groups. They’re all for putting better tech on the road, but automakers are selling systems like Tesla’s Autopilot, or Nissan’s Pro Pilot Assist, with the implied promise that they’ll make driving easier and safer, and a new study is the latest to say that may not always be the case. More worryingly, drivers think these systems are far more capable than they really are.
Euro NCAP, an independent European car safety assessment group (similar to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US) has just released the results of its first round of tests of 10 new cars with driver-assistance technologies. It also published the results of a survey of over 1,500 car owners in seven countries, asking them what they believe these cars are capable of.
“Seventy percent of people believe you can buy autonomous cars,” says Matthew Avery, head of research at the UK’s Thatcham Research, a Euro NCAP member. Eleven percent said they’d be tempted to have a nap, read a paper, or watch a film while using one of the highway-assist features available today, even though every automaker peddling the tech requires drivers to pay attention to the road at all times. “It’s really worrying that consumers are believing the hype.”
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