You might be familiar with the name Euro NCAP, but exactly what they do and why they are such an influential institution within the automotive industry might not be quite as well known.
In a nutshell, the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) is one of the world’s most well-established safety rating systems for new car models. Euro NCAP is backed by the European Commission, five European governments and various motoring and consumer organizations in every EU country. While there are corresponding organizations in other parts of the world, like China NCAP, US NCAP and Japan NCAP, Euro NCAP is known as the most progressive and visionary, often the first to launch new assessment protocols.
At its core, Euro NCAP is a relatively small team of people who test and rate vehicles based on their level of safety. Nevertheless, these assessments tend to have tremendous impact on the automotive industry. A high rating from Euro NCAP is a well-established mark of quality. Millions of people look to Euro NCAP when deciding which car to buy, and naturally favor the models with the highest safety ratings. This encourages automakers to adapt their new car models to the safety standards set by Euro NCAP. Because if there’s one thing an automaker wants to avoid, it’s a reputation for designing and building unsafe cars.
The tests performed by Euro NCAP are based on an assessment protocol that is updated every two years. Once tested, new car models receive a star rating, with five stars being the highest rating and one being the lowest.
The assessment protocol consists of four important categories, which combined decide a vehicle’s overall safety rating. They are:
– Adult Occupant Protection
– Child Occupant Protection
– Vulnerable Road User (VRU) Protection
– Safety Assist
On the next few pages, we will focus on the fourth category: Safety Assist. This is the category that evaluates driver assistance and crash avoidance technologies, including technologies like Driver Monitoring systems.
Occupant Status Monitoring (OSM) technologies have been developed to improve road safety. For many years, Euro NCAP has rewarded seatbelt reminders, and such systems remain a central part of OSM. But with newer technologies, the condition of the driver can be monitored to determine whether he or she is alert and paying attention to the driver tasks. These types of technologies are referred to as Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS).
With eye tracking software and an infrared camera, DMS can detect whether a driver is inattentive or drowsy. The system can then generate impulses to alert the driver’s attention, and if this fails, take control, and stop the vehicle. A DMS with eye tracking also enables the driver to remotely control some functionality with the gaze and gestures, which can improve security and comfort for the driver and passengers.
In order to keep up with the quickly evolving occupant status monitoring and driver monitoring technologies, Euro NCAP formed the OSM (Occupant Status Monitoring) group. The OSM group consists of different organizations and administrations that are involved in Euro NCAP. Two important organizations contributing to the work of the OSM group is ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, and CLEPA, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers.
Both ACEA and CLEPA contribute with their expert knowledge on the automotive industry and influence the OSM group’s decisions. Smart Eye is included in CLEPA both as a member and as a representative of Scandinavian organization FKG, offering the OSM group the perspective of Scandinavian automotive suppliers.
In order to stay up to date on relevant developments, the OSM group also gathers important information from external organizations. One of these is the Tier 2 group. Through the Tier 2 group, Driver Monitoring System software developers like Smart Eye, Seeing Machines, Affectiva and Cipia contribute their technical expertise to the OSM group by providing important behavioral indicators and initial testing proposals. Based on both internal discussions and input from external organizations, the OSM group are developing the tests and assessment protocol that Euro NCAP will use to rate the driver monitoring technology in new car models. And this is the part of the process with which the OSM group is currently busy at work. Learn more in our latest e-book, where we will cover more on what we know about the new assessment protocol.