What Does ADAS Mean?

ADAS stands for Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems. ADAS features use technology to make driving safer and easier. Examples of ADAS features include safety systems such as automatic emergency braking, and convenience features such as adaptive cruise control.

ADAS Basics

In many cases, accidents happen due to human error; for one reason or another, drivers may have failed to accurately perceive what’s going on around them.

ADAS safety features can reduce the number of accidents – or their severity – by giving drivers a more complete view of the world around them. These systems use sensors – such as cameras, radar, sonar, or lidar – to constantly surveil the car’s immediate environment. By doing this, they serve as an extra set of eyes for the driver.

Some ADAS safety features take direct action – such as braking or steering the car – to reduce the likelihood or severity of an accident. 

ADAS Safety Features Save Lives & Prevent Injury

Countless studies have demonstrated the benefits of driver assist technologies on a large scale. For example, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) determined that automatic emergency braking, a key ADAS technology, reduces rear-end crashes with injuries by 56 percent.

The evidence for the effectiveness of automatic emergency braking is so strong that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends including it on all new cars, and most automakers have now committed to installing it on all new cars by the middle of the decade.

Blind spot monitoring, a passive ADAS feature, was found to reduce lane-change crashes by 14% in another IIHS study.

Passive and Active ADAS Features

ADAS features come in two broad categories: active and passive.

Passive ADAS Features: Passive ADAS warn the driver of a hazardous situation. It’s then up to the driver to react. The warning may be a sound or flashing light. Some systems will shake the driver’s seat or steering wheel. Example: Forward collision warning. 

Active ADAS Features: Active ADAS features take a more significant role in accident prevention. Examples include automatically braking the vehicle if sensors detect an imminent collision, or preventing you from making a lane change if sensors indicate that doing so may cause a crash. While active ADAS features aren’t the same as automated driving, much of the underlying technology is shared with automated and self-driving cars. Example: Automatic emergency braking.

Key ADAS Features

There are many different types of passive and active ADAS features. Here are some of the most common:

Forward Collision Warning (Passive)

Forward collision warning (FCW) can detect if there’s an obstruction ahead that could cause a crash and warn you so you can apply the brakes. 

Automatic Emergency Braking (Active)

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is an advanced version of forward collision warning. Like forward collision warning, AEB uses sensors to monitor the road ahead; if it determines that the vehicle is in danger of collision, it warns the driver. However, if the driver fails to heed the warning, AEB will automatically apply the car’s brakes to prevent a crash or reduce its severity. 

Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (Passive)

It’s often difficult to see traffic approaching from the side when reversing out of a parking spot. Rear cross-traffic alert uses sensors to detect if you’re in danger of colliding when your vehicle is in Reverse. It issues a warning that lets you know a collision seems imminent. 

Rear Automatic Emergency Braking (Active)

Rear automatic emergency braking uses sensors to detect if there’s an obstruction in the vehicle’s path when reversing. If the driver doesn’t respond quickly enough, this system automatically hits the brakes to prevent an accident.

Blind Spot Warning (Can Be Passive or Active)

An undetected vehicle in your blind spot puts you at risk of an accident when you change lanes. Blind spot warning works to prevent this from happening. This system uses sensors to detect if there’s a vehicle in your blind spot. If a vehicle is detected, the blind spot warning system will alert you. Some systems will brake your car as well. 

Lane Departure Warning (Passive)

Lane departure warning uses cameras to detect if your car is within the lane markers. If you inadvertently cross a lane marking, the lane departure warning system will alert you. 

Lane Keeping Assist (Active)

Lane keeping assist is similar to lane departure warning, but it takes direct action to keep you within your lane. If cameras detect you’re outside your lane, this system will steer the car back within the appropriate lane markers. 

Pedestrian Detection (Can Be Passive or Active)

Pedestrian detection systems use sensors to detect pedestrians. Some variations can also identify cyclists and automatically brake the vehicle to prevent a collision.

Driver Monitors (Passive)

Many accidents stem from driver fatigue and distraction. Driver drowsiness detection is a technology for preventing these accidents. This ADAS feature tracks variables such as turn signal use, driving habits, and steering movement. If the system detects activity that indicates drowsy or distracted driving, it alerts the driver.

Cruise Control (Passive)

Cruise control is the granddaddy of ADAS features; it was invented back in 1948. This feature automatically governs a car’s throttle, allowing the vehicle to maintain a consistent speed on long stretches of highway. When cruise control is active, the driver doesn’t have to use the gas pedal. Because of this, it can help reduce driver fatigue on long journeys.  

Adaptive Cruise Control (Active)

Adaptive cruise control is a more advanced form of cruise control. Like regular cruise control, it allows the driver to maintain a constant speed on uninterrupted stretches of road. However, it takes things a step further by helping drivers maintain a set distance between their car and the vehicle in front of it.

Some systems will also reduce the car’s speed when the speed limit decreases or there’s a curve ahead. And some advanced versions of this technology will work in stop-and-go traffic.  

Lane Centering (Active)

Lane centering is a more advanced form of lane keeping assist. It uses cameras to identify lane markings on the road and automatically steers the vehicle to keep it in the middle of the lane.

Automatic Parking (Active)

Driver error is a common cause of dings and dents during parking. Automatic parking can park your car in a parallel or perpendicular parking spot with no driver input required. Using sensors and computers, it takes over the steering, braking, and acceleration to park your car.