Self-driving cars may seem like a dream of the future, but much of the technology that supports the idea is already on the market. It’s called Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) – in-vehicle features which help the driver either avoid a crash (active safety) or reduce its impact (passive safety). Car manufacturers are packing more and more ADAS into their new models to help us drive smarter, and drive safer.

There are three main categories of ADAS: Aid the driver, Warn the driver and Assist the driver.

Aid the driver functions mainly relate to detecting obstacles: Night Vision for example, and Adaptive Light System which adjusts the lights automatically to the direction of the road. Others include Traffic Sign Recognition which identifies speed limit signage and Surround View to help us park safely.

Warn the driver systems focus on alerting us to dangers. Everyone has heard the beeping of Park Assist; soon we’ll also be using Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Detection to help avoid accidents.

The last group of ADAS is Assist the driver functions, which actively stabilize or manoeuvre the vehicle. Adaptive Cruise Control adjusts the car’s speed to maintain a constant distance from the vehicle ahead; Emergency Brake Assist helps us avoid or reduce impact with the vehicle ahead; and Lane Keep Assist helps prevent lane drift.

From the windscreen

All these functions use cameras, radar, light detection and ranging technology (LIDAR) or ultrasound-based systems coupled with sensors.

Forward vision systems (cameras and LIDARs) are placed just behind the windscreen – it’s the best position in the vehicle for a high-up view of the road surface, identification of objects and accurate estimation of distances. Importantly for these new technologies which depend on a clear uninterrupted view, your windscreen is also perfectly protected from outside conditions and wipers ensure that ADAS’s vision is never impaired.

ADAS is a hot topic in the auto industry. We will be writing more about how glass is involved, in future newsletters.