With the development and availability of advanced technologies at low cost, many mass-market cars in India have now started offering ADAS or autonomous driving assistance systems. The Mahindra XUV700 was one of the first vehicles to offer it and now there are many SUV units with the technology. We’ve seen a lot of videos of people abusing the support system. The latest shows a car racing without a driver in its seat.
The video was uploaded by the owner of the Mahindra XUV700 on his Instagram account but has now been deleted. It shows the car on a single-lane highway. There is no driver in the vehicle seat when the vehicle is moving forward. We are not sure about the speed of the car but it is definitely a dangerous stunt.
While this may sound like fun, it is extremely unsafe. Mahindra even instructs the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel at all times. If the driver takes his hands off the steering wheel completely, the XUV700 will play warning sounds and also vibrate the steering wheel.
To ensure that the driver keeps his hands on the steering wheel, Mahindra disengages the system after a set of warnings. ADAS is an assistive system and cannot drive the vehicle completely by itself. Also, such systems can fail, especially in India where lane markings can suddenly disappear. ADAS relies on lane markings and without them, it cannot keep the car within the lane.
Reports of similar incidents in Tesla cars
In many instances, we have seen several Tesla drivers engaged in similar activities. Tesla cars offer a similar level-2 driving assistance system and drivers benefit by watching movies and doing many things they might not have done with their hands on the steering wheel. Tesla cars offer a high degree of autonomy but because it still requires driver attention, it is classified as Level-2 ADAS. In fact, Tesla has been sued by drivers over fully autonomous claims.
Such driving on public roads can be dangerous. While many countries have laws for autonomous cars, there are no such rules in India yet. We hope that with the growing generation of such autonomous and semi-autonomous cars on Indian roads, the government will enact new laws to address the issues.
There is no vehicle in the world that has been sold to the public that is fully autonomous. Even with technology companies like Alphabet spending millions of dollars on autonomous systems, it’s still in its infancy and will need at least a decade to be safe and fully operational on public roads.