For the longest time, Euro NCAP has been one of foremost global standard setters for measuring how safe a vehicle is when it gets into an accident. The crash testing is quite intensive, comprised of frontal and side impacts to name a few; methods that have been constantly improved over the years. It's not easy to get a five-star rating either as new vehicles don't always get a perfect score.
With the rise of assisted driving technology, it seems Euro NCAP has now started testing these systems as well. More importantly, they have developed a proper test, assessment protocol, and a grading system to give customers an idea of how capable the driver assistance technology in their vehicles are.
Euro NCAP's new assessment protocols for assisted driving technology focuses on two factors: Assistance Competence – a balance between the technical competencies of the system (Vehicle Assistance) and the extent to which it keeps the driver alert and engaged (Driver Engagement) - and Safety Backup, the car’s safety net in critical situations.
A grading system similar to the five-star rating using in crash tests will help consumers understand the results and compare them against other assistance levels. Each car test will fall under one of four categories: Entry, Moderate, Good, and Very Good.
So far, three cars have been graded “Very Good” – the 2020 Audi Q8, 2020 BMW 3 Series, and the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE. Per the test, the cars “provide a good crash avoidance backup system” and responded quickly if the driver becomes incapacitated while the car is in assistance mode. Meanwhile, high-volume models like the Renault Clio, Peugeot 2008 were given an Entry grade. Given their price point, they did lack more advanced systems but still provided a modest level of assistance.
Interestingly, the Tesla Model 3 only scored “Moderate” despite having numerous driver assistance systems and even self-driving tech. Euro NCAP says the “Autopilot” system does little to keep the driver engaged hence the score.
“Assisted driving technologies offer enormous benefits by reducing fatigue and encouraging safe driving. However, manufacturers must ensure that assisted driving technology does not increase the amount of harm incurred by drivers or other road users compared to conventional driving. The best systems offer a balance between the amount of assistance they provide and the level of driver engagement – and should be supported by an effective safety backup,” said Dr. Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP Secretary General.