Feb 22, 2019

What you need to know about assisted-driving technology

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Technology in today's cars can make driving safer — but it can also be dangerous if not used properly.

Why it matters: Self-driving cars don't exist yet, but many people still confuse today's driver-assist technologies with self-driving capability. Understanding how these systems can steer, brake and accelerate — and when not to rely on them — could help people learn to trust fully automated vehicles when they finally arrive.

The big picture: Many new cars now come with standard assisted-driving features that have been proven to make driving safer. Other safety options are available in technology packages tacked on for an average $1,950, but may be bundled with other premium features.

  • Gimmicky marketing names can make it hard to discern what features a car has and how they work.
  • 40% of Americans wrongly think a partially automated driving system like Autopilot, ProPilot or Pilot Assist means it can drive the car itself, AAA found.
  • Relying too heavily on these features has resulted in avoidable crashes and dangerous incidents that threaten to undermine public confidence in self-driving cars.
  • The industry has 40 different brand names to describe automatic emergency braking, 20 names for adaptive cruise control and 19 terms for lane-keeping assistance, says AAA, which wants to see standard terminology across the industry.

Here's what you need to know to navigate the confusion...


These features control certain driving tasks, under prescribed circumstances.

  • Adaptive cruise control — which maintains a safe distance from the car ahead — and lane-keeping assist — which nudges you back in your lane — are examples.
  • Roll them together and you get highway-driving assistance technologies like Cadillac's Super Cruise or Tesla's Autopilot.
  • Most of these partially automated technologies require drivers' hands on the wheel intermittently; Super Cruise is hands-off, but uses a camera to ensure drivers stay alert.
Collision mitigation

These features help to avoid or lessen the severity of impact.

  • Automatic emergency braking detects potential collisions and automatically applies the brakes if the driver doesn't react fast enough.
  • In 2016, 20 automakers committed to make AEB standard on all vehicles by 2022 because of its life-saving benefits.
  • Some cars also have AEB systems that work in reverse or emergency evasive steering technology to help avoid crashes.
Collision alerts

These features act like a second pair of eyes to help detect and warn of potential dangers, but leave it to the driver to react.

  • Blind-spot warnings usually pop up in the side view mirror to let drivers know of cars in adjacent lanes.
  • Lane-departure warnings usually sound an alert if the car is drifting out of the lane. (It won't steer drivers back on track unless they have lane-keeping assist, too.)
  • Forward-collision warnings usually flash a sudden message on the dash or windshield to pay attention. Pedestrian detection acts similarly when someone walks into the car's path.
  • Rear cross-traffic warnings sound an alarm when oncoming traffic is detected while backing out of a driveway or parking space.

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Italy reports lowest number of new coronavirus cases since February

Italy’s aerobatic team Frecce Tricolori fly over Milan in Duomo Square on May 25. Photo: Francesco Prandoni/Getty Images

The Italian government reported 300 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, the lowest daily increase since Feb. 29.

Why it matters: Italy, the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown after emerging as a hotspot in March, appears to have finally weathered its coronavirus outbreak. Italy has reported nearly 33,000 total deaths, the third-highest total behind the U.S. and U.K.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 5,453,784 — Total deaths: 345,886 — Total recoveries — 2,191,310Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,651,254 — Total deaths: 97,850 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Top Boris Johnson aide defends himself after allegations he broke U.K. lockdown — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.