COLCHESTER, Conn. – Consumer Reports (CR), the nonprofit research, testing, and advocacy organization, yesterday announced the opening of a 1.5 mile, multi-lane test loop to evaluate Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) systems. The new addition to the Auto Test Center will help CR evaluate these systems, educate the public and advocate for safety and innovation that go hand and hand.
More than half of new cars today come equipped with ADAS features that enable them to automate certain driving functions with little to no driver intervention. While these systems have the clear potential to make driving safer, CR has found that not all are created equally, and lack of consumer awareness of their limitations can be dangerous. The ADAS Loop allows CR to compare these systems on a common course that is closed to public traffic.
“More automakers are rolling out safety systems and driver-assist features – some good, some not so good – and we want to help people understand the difference,” said Marta Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “This ADAS Loop will let us put the latest vehicles – and future innovations — through our most rigorous tests. Our ultimate goal is making sure proven safety features come standard in every vehicle, because your safety shouldn’t be treated like a luxury add-on. This innovative addition to our track is the latest chapter in our history of improving safety in cars, from seat belts to rear view cameras.”
CR’s ADAS Loop meets local and federal roadway design requirements and includes intersections, curves, hills, merges and on/off ramps. It’s also designed to be easily adaptable to testing emerging and future technologies by adding different lane and traffic patterns, traffic lights, and advanced “Vehicle-to-everything,” or V2X systems that allow vehicles to communicate with other vehicles, and more. Construction of the one million dollar roadway was completed over the last year with much of the work completed by CR’s own facilities staff.
“We’ve been evaluating advanced technology systems for several years, and have found that when done right, it can make driving safer and more convenient. But poorly designed systems can put drivers at risk,” said Kelly Funkhouser, Consumer Reports’ Manager of Vehicle Technology. “As the long march toward true self-driving cars advances, our new ADAS Loop positions us to assure that these advanced features include appropriate checks and balances to protect consumers. Consumers need to know that while these systems are promising, they have limitations, and automakers need to design vehicles that put safety first, whether the consumer is inside or outside the car.”
The Loop is the latest addition to CR’s 327-acre Auto Test Center, which was established in 1986 on the site of the former Connecticut International Dragway. CR has invested more than $14 million to create the world’s largest and most sophisticated independent automobile testing center dedicated to consumer interests, complete with a 3,100-foot vehicle handling circuit and skid pad, a 17,000-square-foot garage and office complex, and 12,000-square-foot maintenance building. CR buys all of the vehicles it tests anonymously from car dealers, just like consumers do, and does not accept any free samples from manufacturers for its ratings or evaluations.