For any car manufacturer on the European market, this is the burning question. What will the next update of Euro NCAP’s assessment protocol require of their car models? The exact assessment protocol and how car models will be tested has yet to be confirmed, but the OSM group is working hard to finalize the performance tests. Originally, testing according to the new assessment protocol was planned to begin in 2022, but the update had to be pushed to 2023 due to the 2020 outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. So here’s what we know so far thanks to our involvement in the Euro NCAP OSM group.
Receiving a five-star rating from Euro NCAP will be very difficult without an active safety system that monitors the state of the driver – also known as a Driver Monitoring System. But simply having a Driver Monitoring System might not be enough to secure a top safety rating from Euro NCAP. The number of stars awarded depends on the quality of the system, and its ability to prevent dangerous situations. The assessment of Driver Monitoring Systems will be based on three different types of road safety risks: distraction from forward road, fatigue, and unresponsive driver/sudden sickness.
Distraction from forward road refers to any type of situation that takes the driver’s eyes off the road ahead. This can include anything from adjusting the infotainment or texting while driving, to being distracted by a child in the backseat.
No matter the cause of the distraction, if the driver takes their eyes off the road for too long or keep repeating distracting behaviors, the Driver Monitoring System needs to be able to issue an effective warning that brings the driver’s attention back to the road. Meanwhile, it should cause the car’s active safety system to intervene. But for a system tested by Euro NCAP, being able to identify distraction is just a basic requirement. To receive top marks without falsely annoying the driver, it will need to be able to differentiate between different types of distractions with a very high level of accuracy.
Fatigue will be assessed based on the KSS (Karolinska Sleepiness Scale), which is a well-established evaluation system for studying sleepiness. In fact, the KSS is the scale we use at Smart Eye when developing our driver monitoring systems, which ensures that the estimates made by our software correspond with how Euro NCAP measures sleepiness.
Sudden sickness, or unresponsive driver, is defined as any situation in which the driver loses control of the vehicle due to a sudden health condition, like a heart attack or a seizure. A situation like this would require more drastic safety measures compared to other types of impairment states. First, the system might try to warn the driver, while activating automatic lane keeping to keep the car from drifting. If the driver remains unresponsive, the car would activate its emergency blinkers and come to a gradual stop.
Learn more in our latest e-book, where we will cover more on getting a 5 star rating with Euro NCAP.