With the advancement and availability of high-end technologies at a lower cost, many mass-segment cars in India have now started offering ADAS or Autonomous Driving Assistance Systems. Mahindra XUV700 was one of the first vehicles to offer the same and there are many units of the SUV now with the technology. We have seen a lot of videos of people misusing the assistance system. The latest one shows the car running without the driver in its seat.
The video was uploaded by the owner of the Mahindra XUV700 on his Instagram account but it has been deleted now. It shows the car on a single-lane highway. There is no driver on the seat of the car as the vehicle moves ahead. We are not sure about the speed of the car but it sure is a dangerous stunt.
While it may look like fun, it is highly unsafe. Even Mahindra directs the driver of the vehicle to keep their hands on the steering wheel all the time. If the driver lifts the hands completely from the steering wheel, the XUV700 will play warning sounds and vibrate the steering wheel too.
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To ensure that the driver keeps their hands on the steering wheel, Mahindra also disengages the system after a set of warnings. The ADAS is an assistive system and cannot manoeuvre the vehicle completely on its own. Also, such systems can fail, especially in India where lane markings may disappear suddenly. ADAS rely on lane markings and without them, it is cannot maintain the car inside the lane.
Reports of similar incidents in Tesla cars
In many instances, we have seen several Tesla drivers engaging in similar activities. Tesla cars offer similar Level-2 driving assistance systems and drivers take advantage by watching movies and doing many things that they might not have done with the steering wheel in their hands. Tesla cars offer a higher degree of autonomy but since it still requires driver’s attention, it is classified as Level-2 ADAS. In fact, Tesla has been sued by drivers over fully-autonomous claims.
Such driving can be dangerous on public roads. While many countries have rules for autonomous cars, there are no such rules in India yet. We hope that with the growing breed of such autonomous and semi-autonomous cars on Indian roads, the government will make new laws to address the problems.
There is no car in the world sold to the public that is fully autonomous. Even with technology companies like Alphabet spending millions of dollars on autonomous systems, it is still in its novice stage and will require at least a decade to become safer and fully operational on public roads.