Car manufacturers are starting to sell cars equipped with automatic steering and cruise control to make driving easier, which should be a tedious experience, so that drivers can even drive hands-free in certain situations.

However, these characteristics raise new questions: How do you prevent people from being distracted while driving or making phone calls if they don’t have much to do with their hands?

Car manufacturers add safety technologies to prevent accidents, such as B. automatic emergency braking systems and systems that prevent a car from leaving its lane. Meanwhile, there are more and more car functions that make driving during rush hour or on the road less strenuous.

Some new systems allow drivers to keep their hands off the wheel on the highway or in traffic. They use sensors, radars and cameras to automatically centre the vehicle, control its speed and even change lanes.

General Motors Co.

In 2017, it was the first major car manufacturer to announce such features with its hands-free Super Cruise, which can be activated at the touch of a button on the steering wheel on most American motorways, allowing the car to take control of steering and speed.

Tesla charging station in California. The car manufacturer has recently made a test version of the updated autopilot available to some owners, the company’s function for driver assistance.


David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News

The Detroit-based car manufacturer now plans to introduce the technology in about 2023, compared to just one Cadillac model to date.

Ford Motor Co.

F -1.45%

The company said recently that it will offer similar technology in 100,000 F-150 pickups and Mustang Mach-E electric sports vehicles starting next year.

Honda Motor Co.

CMC -0.45%.

In the coming months, Japan plans to launch a sedan that will allow drivers to completely relinquish control of the vehicle in heavy traffic or on the highway. The technology will even allow drivers to take their eyes off the road, although they must regain control of the road at all times, the company says. In Japan, the authorities approved the use of the product in November.

Honda said she hadn’t announced any plans to deploy the technology outside of Japan.

In the meantime,

Tesla Inc.

TSLA 2.44%.

reports that it has recently released a test version of its updated autopilot, the autopilot driver assistance function.


Would you be more inclined to buy a car that offers a hands-free system? Why or why not? Take part in the discussion below.

The $10,000 feature, which the company calls Complete Self-Driving, extends the use of automated functions to other types of roads and adds features such as navigation at intersections of highways.

The promise of completely driverless cars has faded in recent years as developers strive to improve the technology. But car manufacturers are increasingly equipping models with driverless car parts in order to offer so-called ‘driver assistance’ packages in the hope of gaining a competitive advantage and boosting sales.

They allow car manufacturers to offer consumers truly attractive and differentiated features at a reasonable price, he said.

Glen the Fox,

CTO of Aptiv PLC, a supplier of software and components used in driver assistance systems.

Consumer Reports recently tested 17 models that combine automatic steering and cruise control. According to the magazine, these systems can reduce driver fatigue, but their performance varies considerably depending on how smoothly they brake and accelerate or keep the car in the middle of the lane.

Nevertheless, safety defenders are concerned that drivers who have less to do behind the wheel may be tempted to look at their phones or be distracted by other things, which could lead to an accident.

When we put this technology in cars, we have to remember to ensure reasonable driver participation, he said.

Brian Reimer,

an M.I.T. investigator studying driver assistance systems.

Some advocates have criticized Tesla for promoting his latest update as a self-propelled system, claiming that the system is not completely self-sufficient, and advocates say that the test system should not be tested on public roads.

Tesla did not respond to requests for comments. The manufacturer of electric cars has previously indicated that the accident rate is lower when the Autopilot driver assistance system is activated than when it is not.

Automakers have installed camera-based systems that track drivers’ concentration and warn them when their attention shifts, executives and analysts say. General Motors and


BMW 1.78%.

use this technology to attract drivers, and Ford and other companies plan to use them in their future models. Such systems have been praised by researchers.

Mr De Vos d’Aptiv said that the company is working with five car manufacturers to equip cars with camera-based driver tracking systems.

According to the company, the owners of Cadillac have driven around 6.5 million kilometres hands-free using Super Cruise technology. A series of beeps warns the driver when his attention is diverted from the road.

Mario Maiorana,

GM Super Cruise’s chief engineer said it has become a point of sale for buyers, noting that 85% of owners say this feature will be an important factor in their next car purchase.

People have told us that they feel they have arrived at their destination fresh and settled because of our work, he said.

He stated that the latest update has improved driver control technology. It can now follow the driver’s eyes, not just the position of the head, to better determine whether the driver is stuck on the road or elsewhere.

A U.S. Senate Act introduced this year would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to study whether control systems for drivers could reduce driver distraction and possibly make their use mandatory in future models. Legislation introduced by Edward Markey (D., Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) in July is still pending.

A spokesman for the department’s National Highway Safety Administration said it is studying whether driver control systems are effective in detecting and alleviating driver inattention or disorder.

The increasing availability of driver support systems has led to the introduction of a wide range of functions that vary according to the model and manufacturer of the vehicle, such as

Kelly Funkhouser,

The Vehicle Test Manager leads the automated coverage of vehicles in consumer reports.

All these systems behave so differently, and there are no performance or design standards, she said. We need more consistency.

Email Mike Colias at [email protected]

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