The American Automobile Association has publicly praised the driver monitoring system used in General Motors vehicles that feature the automaker’s hands-free Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving assistant.
The organization outlined the results of a recent real-world test of semi-autonomous driving assistant technologies in a news release published Tuesday entitled “Face It: Only One Type of Driver Monitoring System Works, But It’s Not Foolproof.” AAA experts found systems using a driver-facing camera, such as GM’s Super Cruise system, “are best at keeping motorists focused on the road,” although in some instances, a “driver determined to cheat the system can defeat it.”
AAA tested four different driving assistants from four different automakers in its evaluation. This included a 2021 Cadillac Escalade with Super Cruise, a 2021 Subaru Forested with EyeSight, a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe with Highway Driving Assistant and a 2020 Tesla Model 3 with Autopilot. Of these, only the Cadillac and Subaru systems utilize a cabin-facing camera to ensure the driver is paying attention, while the Hyundai and Tesla systems only require the driver to put one hand on the steering wheel.
AAA researchers found that the systems with camera-based driver monitoring disengaged drivers 50 seconds sooner and were more persistent than those detecting steering wheel movement. Additionally, the amount of time test drivers were engaged was approximately five times greater for camera-based systems than for steering wheel systems. AAA also found that the Hyundai and Tesla systems “failed to disable the semi-autonomous features and force the driver to take the wheel and pay attention,” even after issuing multiple warnings of inattentive driving.
“Regardless of brand names or marketing claims, vehicles available for purchase today are not capable of driving themselves,” explained Greg Brannon, director of AAA’s automotive engineering and industry relations. “Driver monitoring systems are a good first step to preventing deadly crashes, but they are not foolproof.”
GM is poised to become the first automaker to implement a semi-autonomous system capable of handling up to 90 percent of all driving scenarios when it rolls out Ultra Cruise in 2023. Just like Super Cruise, Ultra Cruise will use driver-facing cameras to ensure the driver’s gaze is fixed on the road ahead and not on the infotainment screen, their cellphone or elsewhere.
Super Cruise also topped a recent Consumer Reports group test of similar systems, with the publication praising the system for similar reasons to AAA. CR editors appreciated Super Cruise’s strict driver monitoring system and expressed a desire to see Tesla and other automakers follow the same path as GM.