When in-car connectivity and software experts say the technology has become distracting for drivers, it’s a sign that there may be a problem.

According to the CEO of VNC Automotive, a technology specialist that supplies “automotive ecosystem” hardware and software to companies including Volkswagen, Toyota, Honda, Bosch, Panasonic, Sony and Huawei, with the aim of improving driver convenience and safety Innovation is in danger. problem instead of solution.

“The competition for driver attention has never been higher,” says VNC CEO Tom Blackie. “Roads are busier than ever, touchscreens dominate vehicle interiors, and we are living an increasingly connected life. This means there are now many more opportunities to focus driver attention elsewhere.

A recent study by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory and road safety charity IAM RoadSmart found that drivers took their eyes off the road for 20 seconds when asked to play a track from Spotify using the touchscreen interface – Long enough to travel a distance over 630 meters at 100km/h.

During that time, many drivers struggled to maintain their lane position, while some failed to respond to a simulated emergency. Overall, response times were increased by up to 57 percent when interacting with these devices; By comparison, driving over the alcohol limit only resulted in a 12 percent increase in reaction time.

“Not only that, but modern cars are laden with systems eager to issue a whisper of warnings and alerts, punishing us for wandering over a white line without a signal, or demanding that we take a break. .

“They’ve become the ultimate back-seat driver,” says Blackie, “disrupting the act of driving to issue criticism but not enough context to be useful.”

The VNC argues that the move to proactive safety technology (features designed to help prevent accidents) has become inevitable because passive measures (those designed to protect accident occupants) exceed their potential. limits have been reached, and no further development is expected.

Externally mounted cameras, radar and other sensors are fast becoming the norm. Testing bodies such as NCAP/ANCAP will no longer give a full five-star rating to new vehicles unless comprehensive active safety features are fitted.

The VNC argues that there is now evidence that new cars are more likely to be involved in accidents at intersections or when involved in traffic: “The risks associated with long eyesight while off the road – such as interacting with a mobile phone Time – It is well understood, for example, that more research is needed on the effects of multiple small blinks when interacting with a touchscreen.

“Our experience gained as a result of having our technology installed in 35 million vehicles worldwide has shown us that there is a subtle but important difference between an interface that provides a slick window onto a digital world and one that centers basic functionality. bury the Maze.

“Perhaps it is time to recognize the gravity of this challenge and ask our safety organizations to develop formal assessments for in-vehicle distraction,” suggests Blackie.

Euro NCAP is already working on this ethos. From 2023, vehicles to achieve a perfect score in the Occupant Status Monitoring (OSM) category will need to be fitted with “Direct Driver Monitoring”, a system to remove warnings from the driver’s attention away from the act of driving. should be away.

This raises the possibility of warning a driver to turn to a touchscreen menu to adjust the temperature, for example, an unpleasant situation that any carmaker would undoubtedly be eager to address. But it also introduces the possibility to adjust the vehicle’s systems in response to the driver’s current attention level.

Features of ADAS such as forward collision warnings can adjust their sensitivity to warn if the driver’s attention is elsewhere, while the opposite may also be true, becoming less intrusive if the driver is perceived to be more alert. provides feedback. For example, by simplifying the display on busy motorways, it may also be possible to adjust the layout of the in-vehicle screen in response to hand position.

Meanwhile, the industry continues to look to a future that uses increasing vehicle autonomy to legitimize opportunities for drivers to get off the road.

“If we expect drivers to be able to resume control if the assist feature is not performing as expected, understanding both physical and cognitive distraction will only become more important,” says Blackie.

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