The publication performed evaluation tests on five driver assistance systems, including Super Cruise, Ford BlueCruise, BMW Traffic Jam Assist, Subaru EyeSight and DriverFocus and Tesla Autopilot. Of these, only two met the publication’s standards for effectiveness: Super Cruise and Blue Cruise.
Consumer Reports placed an emphasis on semi-autonomous systems that include adequate driver monitoring tech. This makes these systems safer, allowing them to detect when a driver is looking at the road ahead and disengage if they become inattentive. This is what set Super Cruise apart in the publication’s testing, with the system’s driver-monitoring cameras accurately detecting when the driver was not attentive and quickly disengaging with adequate audible and visual warnings.
“We performed our tests on a Chevrolet Bolt EUV, a Cadillac CT6, and a Cadillac Escalade, and each delivered multiple warnings to grab an inattentive driver’s attention,” the publication’s editors concluded. “If the driver still does not react, the system will start to slow down the car on its own, eventually bringing it to a stop. The system won’t operate if the camera is covered.”
It was a similar story with Blue Cruise, which was evaluated on a Mustang Mach-E GT. “The system didn’t operate with the camera covered, and warned the driver with audio and visual alerts if the driver closed their eyes or looked away from the road for about 5 seconds,” editors found. “If the driver didn’t respond, the vehicle briefly hit its brakes to “jolt” the driver into alertness, and eventually slowed to a stop.”
Tesla Autopilot was panned by editors, who found that “drivers could use Autopilot while the vehicle’s cabin camera was fully covered, which defeats the purpose of driver monitoring.” Additionally, if the camera detected that the driver’s eyes were not on the road, the vehicle only shortened how long a driver could take their hands off the wheel, rather than providing a warning and/or disengaging the system.
Subaru models equipped with EyeSight and Driver Focus, meanwhile, performed well. Editors docked the system points as the driver-monitoring system can be turned off from the infotainment screen, however.
BMW Traffic Jam Assist suffered a similar fate to Autopilot, receiving criticism as the adaptive cruise control/lame keep assist system works with the camera covered or toggled off. BMW only intended for the system to be used at speed below 40 mph, hence the name Traffic Jam Assist, and told Consumer Reports it’s designed this way to “reinforce that completely hands-free driving is not available at speeds above 40 mph.”
Going forward, Consumer Reports would like to see more automaker implement systems like GM’s and Ford’s, both of which have strict driver monitoring systems.
“GM’s Super Cruise and now Ford’s BlueCruise both have the right combination of helping drivers enjoy the convenience of automation while verifying that they’re keeping their eyes on the road,” editors concluded.