ADAS Explained: The tech behind this popular safety and convenience feature

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ADAS is a term thrown around a lot in the car world. Every manufacturer has been bringing ADAS to a more accessible segment with each launch for at least the last year. What started as a feature we only used to see in the creme-de-la-creme of cars like the Mercedes S Class or the BMW 7-series has now trickled down to the likes of much more affordable cars like the Kia Sonet and, more recently, the Mahindra XUV 3XO.

But we have often been asked what ADAS is, how it works, and if it’s even meant to be used on Indian roads. So, what is ADAS, and how exactly does it help make cars safer and easier to drive? In this explainer, we will touch upon all these points and tell you in detail what ADAS is, how it works, and if it is meant for Indian roads. Let’s begin.

What is ADAS?

ADAS stands for Advanced Driver-Assistance System. It is a safety feature designed to make cars safer and make driving more convenient for users. ADAS works by implementing several safety features at once to give drivers a holistically safer and more convenient experience. In a nutshell, ADAS partially automates some driving tasks while on the road.

ADAS functions at various levels that determine how much assistance the car offers to the driver. They range from level 0 to level 5, where level 0 is no assistance and level 5 is full automation.

Currently, some of the most common cars in India use level 2 ADAS, which is also the highest level of ADAS tech available in India. Level 1 ADAS is more of an entry point into ADAS tech and is used in popular cars like the new Kia Sonet or the Honda Elevate.

Levels of ADAS?

As mentioned above, there are 6 levels of ADAS, where level 0 is no assistance, and level 5 is full automation. Each of the six levels is categorized based on the required driver supervision. Here are the six levels of ADAS:

ADAS Level 0 Features – No automation

Level 0 means the car has no ADAS, and the driver performs all the driving tasks. Vehicles with Level 0 ADAS can still include common safety features like anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control (TCS), and electronic stability control (ESC).

ADAS Level 1 Features – Driver assistance

 In Level 1 ADAS, the system can warn the driver or provide limited assistance with steering or braking, such as lane keep assist or emergency braking. Here, the driver must remain engaged at all times.

Level 1 ADAS is generally camera-based, and no radar or LiDar sensors are involved in reading the traffic or pedestrians on the road. The system is dependent on a camera to detect lane departures or

ADAS Level 2 Features – Partial Automation 

In Level 2 ADAS, the system can control steering and braking under certain conditions, such as on highways. It can keep the car in the lane or slow down as the vehicles ahead slow down. Level 2 ADAS is the most popular and highest level of ADAS we get in India.

Apart from cameras, level 2 ADAS also engages radar and LiDar sensors to detect objects and lanes on the roads. This improves accuracy by a margin and comes with features like blind spot detection, alert assist, and more.

ADAS Level 3 Features – Conditional Automation

Here, the system can manage most aspects of driving in specific conditions, allowing the driver to take breaks for extended periods. However, the driver must be prepared to take back control when the system requests it. This level is not yet widely available in commercial vehicles.

Multiple cameras and sensors also do the job here, ensuring the conditions are read accurately and in real time. Level 3 ADAS also places a greater emphasis on driver attentiveness. It uses cameras or other sensors to ensure that the driver is alert and ready to take back control when prompted by the system.

ADAS Level 4 Features – High Automation 

In level 4 ADAS, the system can handle almost all driving tasks in well-defined areas, such as on highways or in designated geofenced areas where the road markings are clear and traffic is moving in an organized manner.

The amount of tech is obviously higher, but the sensors and cameras are shared with level 3 ADAS. Level 4 ADAS has not been rolled out for the public and is still under development. When deployed, it will allow drivers to safely disengage from driving and perform other activities. Still, some level of attention is required.

ADAS Level 5 Features – Full Automation 

Level 5 ADAS allows the vehicle to perform all driving tasks under any conditions without human input. This level means that the car can not only drive itself but also eliminate any chance of human error that can potentially lead to crashes.

Level 5 ADAS is also under development and has not been rolled out to any commercial vehicle so far.

It is also important to note that ADAS systems are constantly evolving and improving, and the definitions of these levels may change over time.

How does ADAS work?

ADAS uses multiple data inputs to enable safety features in cars. These include imaging techniques that employ sensors and cameras to mimic or potentially exceed the human eye’s capabilities. Some of the most common features that make up an ADAS system include adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, 360-degree cameras, an emergency collision mitigation system (automatic braking), blind spot detection, and the like.

LiDar sensors improve accuracy in deriving the distance between two objects or keeping them inside the lane. Further, radar sensors are also used in ADAS for object detection, distance and speed measurement, and to complement other sensors that are being used in cars to implement ADAS. Some features that rely heavily on the radar are collision mitigation systems, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert, where the car alerts you if a vehicle is crossing from the back.

History of ADAS

We need to pinpoint when and with which vehicle ADAS first started since it is an ever-evolving technology. If we consider basic safety features like ABS or airbags, we have been seeing these since the 1950s or 1970s. If we talk about cruise control, that feature was launched sometime in 1965 in a car from American Motors.

On the other hand, more advanced features, like lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control, started appearing in cars in the late 1990s or early 2000s. What used to be a feature only seen on high-end vehicles is now very well available on mainstream cars.

In India, the Mahindra XUV700 was the first car to bring ADAS to a more affordable segment. Ever since, we have seen ADAS trickle down to even more affordable cars like the Kia Seltos, the MG Hector, and the Honda Elevate. Now, it has come down to the sub-4 meter segment with the new Kia Seltos and the Mahindra XUV 3XO.

Future of ADAS

In the near future, ADAS will also receive additional inputs from sources outside the vehicle. Manufacturers globally are working on vehicle-to-vehicle communication, allowing future-generation ADAS to communicate with other cars on the road to minimize human input and increase safety.

Challenges of relying on systems like ADAS

Since ADAS is a feature that largely relies on sensors and cameras to detect obstacles and markings on the roads, usability in India is drastically low. Given the interiors of most cities in India, where there are no proper markings on the roads and no discipline among commuters, ADAS systems can actually prove to be dangerous.

Why do we say so? The sensors or cameras will see everything and randomly detect obstacles or emergencies. That means that cars tend to engage the emergency brake randomly or, in many cases, constantly beep, which not only makes the experience unpleasant but can also distract the driver instead of making them more attentive.

Apart from that, there is a dependence on computers and sensors, which can malfunction at any given point. Furthermore, it also drastically changes the way people drive. With electronics doing most of the heavy lifting, human input becomes minimal. The result? Less experienced drivers on the road, and this, everyone knows, isn’t ideal.

Conclusion

So, ADAS, or advanced driver-assistive system, is an important feature. To think of it, this is only good if the car does away with human error and keeps things safe and sound inside the cabin. Yes, there are situations where ADAS may not work effectively or malfunction, but as mentioned above, it is an ever-evolving technology, so with time and with more and more AI implementations, ADAS will definitely make cars safer and more automated.

Smartprix StaffSmartprix Staff
The SM Staff team consists of tech-savvy writers and editors adept at simplifying complex tech into easily understandable information.



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