Most drivers don't understand limitations of car safety systems
Most drivers don't understand the limitations of advanced safety technology installed on new vehicles, according to a new study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The study indicates that drivers overestimate the capabilities of features such as blind-spot monitoring systems, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
"A substantial proportion of respondents demonstrated what we believe was a concerning lack of awareness of some of the key limitations of the technologies," said Brian Tefft, senior researcher for the AAA Foundation.
The findings raise questions about whether Americans are ready to adapt to partially self-driving vehicles, which typically require drivers to remain alert and ready to take over the steering wheel if the car can't handle the conditions it encounters.
Problem spots flagged by AAA:
• Blind-spot monitoring: Nearly 80 percent of drivers don't understand the limitations or thought that the system had greater capability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Relying too much on blind-spot monitoring, about 25 percent don't look for oncoming vehicles when they change lanes.
• Forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking: Many drivers confuse the two. One is a warning system, while the other takes action. More than 40 percent of drivers don't know these limitations.
• Adaptive cruise control: About 29 percent of drivers who use this system, which accelerates and brakes on its own, are sometimes comfortable "engaging in other activities" while the system is activated, according to the study.
To be sure, the researchers emphasized that advanced driver assistance systems are generally helpful. Such technologies can prevent about 40 percent of crashes and 30 percent of crash deaths, according to federal estimates.
The problem is that technology backfires when people don't understand how it works.
"I think there's a general assumption among members of the public that technologies in vehicles today will do things for us," said Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety advocacy and research for AAA. "These technologies are not meant to replace us behind the wheel. They're meant to help us out."
Nelson said that it's important for dealers, automakers and rental-car companies to educate drivers, at the time they take delivery of their vehicle, on how these systems work.
And "we shouldn't be marketing them in a way that could potentially mislead folks," Nelson added.
Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi is teaming up with Google to equip their vehicles with "intelligent" infotainment systems, according to a news release.
The technology partnership will see Google embedding its Android operating system in vehicles sold by the Alliance, ensuring that "intelligent" infotainment and customer-focused applications are spread across multiple models and brands. The implementation of these technologies will begin in 2021.
"Under the technology partnership, vehicles sold by the Alliance members in many markets will utilize Android, the world's most popular operating system, and will provide turn-by-turn navigation with Google Maps, access to a rich ecosystem of automotive apps on the Google Play Store and have the ability to answer calls and texts, control media, find information, and manage vehicle functions with voice using the built in Google Assistant," said Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
Google's applications and services will be integrated into both infotainment and cloud-based systems to further improve the user experience. Each Alliance brand will have the ability to create a unique customer interface, as opposed to sticking with the common Android platform.
The Alliance-Google partnership is part of the carmaker's 2022 mid-term plan to equip more of its vehicles with connectivity and cloud-based services.
Retail giant Walmart has announced plans to equip its Canadian fleet with 100 per cent alternative powered vehicles by 2028, according to a company news release.
Walmart Canada is aiming to acquire 30 Tesla semi-trucks, all 18-wheelers, adding to its original order of only 10 in November 2017. With the extra trucks, the company will have "one of the largest electrified fleets planned by a company in Canada." This will also allow the retailer to convert 20 per cent of its fleet to electric power by 2022 - an initial milestone Walmart is striving to meet.
"We are always looking for innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment and lead the industry in the drive for sustainable change," said John Bayliss, senior vice-president, logistics and supply chain, Walmart Canada. "By converting 20 per cent of our fleet to electric vehicles by 2022 and committing to alternative power for all fleet vehicles by 2028, we are putting safety, innovation and sustainability at the forefront of our logistics network."
Walmart Canada plans to put its first 20 Tesla trucks to use at its base in Mississauga, Ont. The other half will be sent to its Surrey, B.C. sustainable fulfillment centre, set to open in 2022. The facility is expected to feature a "fully electric Walmart fleet base, a first for Walmart internationally."
Toyota, Geely in talks about cooperation in hybrid vehicle technology
BEIJING -- Toyota Motor Corp. said on Thursday it is in talks with Chinese automaker Geely about cooperation in gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle technology, but nothing has been decided on the matter.
The move comes as Japan's biggest automaker has been increasingly embracing new automotive technologies for future growth, and has also embarked on a strategy to ramp up sales in China, the world's biggest auto market.
Toyota said in a statement to Reuters that it and Geely are currently "communicating with each other" about gasoline-electric hybrid technology.
It was not immediately clear in what aspects of the hybrid technology Geely and Toyota are discussing cooperating.
A person familiar with the matter, however, said that the talks apparently involve a Chinese supplier of electric battery technology both companies have already been associated with but separately. Toyota declined to comment on the specifics of the cooperation.
"Toyota has been conducting the business with the open policy which also applies to the area of electrification technologies. The relationship with Geely (Toyota is exploring) is also based on this open policy," the statement said.
Toyota's response comes after a Chinese media report said Geely was working with Toyota on the conventional hybrid technology. The report said details on the joint effort would be announced soon.
A Geely spokesman declined to comment.
Toyota, which bet big on gasoline-electric hybrid technology in the late 1990s when it began selling the Prius hybrid, has since localized production of conventional hybrid cars in China and has been selling them here since 2015 under the Corolla and Levin names.
The company has said it plans to sell plug-in hybrid versions of the Corolla and the Levin next year.