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Subaru’s Driver Monitoring System (DMS) beats stiff competition to win 2020 What Car? Technology Award

Press release   •   Jan 14, 2020 23:00 GMT

Subaru's DriverFocus system has won the What Car? Technology Award 2020
  • Subaru triumphs on awards night after making the final shortlist of three
  • Hyundai Centre Side Airbag, BMW Drive Recorder and Land Rover 'UWB' technology claim runner-up spots
  • DMS seen as a key enabler for the safe introduction of automated driving technology
  • Thatcham Research sponsors Technology category for first time
  • Watch as safety expert Matthew Avery and Claire Evans, consumer editor, What Car? demonstrate why the Subaru system is a key ‘bridging technology’: https://www.thatcham.org/what-we-do/technology-award-2020-winner/

Subaru’s ‘DriverFocus’ Driver Monitoring System has been named as the winner of the coveted 2020 What Car? Car of the Year Technology Award, ensuring driver vigilance remains centre stage at a time when automated technology is changing the relationship between motorists and their vehicles.

One of three innovations to make the final shortlist, Subaru’s DMS ­– featured on its Forester e-Boxer model ­– was crowned technology champion at the 2020 What Car? Car of the Year Awards on 14 January.

As a global leader in automotive technology research, Thatcham Research has sponsored the category for the first time this year to champion innovation while ensuring that new functions are introduced safely.

Subaru’s DMS features a dashboard-mounted camera and infrared sensor which uses facial recognition software to monitor eye movements while driving. The system detects if the driver tries to use their mobile device, if their gaze is wandering, or if they are falling asleep. It sounds a warning alert which gets louder the longer the situation endures. The camera technology monitors the driver without recording or storing any footage.

With so many of today’s emerging vehicle innovations focused on the car’s ability to take control in certain situations, judges felt it was important to honour technology that places driver awareness at the heart of the conversation – something Thatcham Research refers to as Guardian Angel Technology.

Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research director of research and Technology Award panelist says: “Automated Driving technology will eventually get us to a place where cars drive themselves – but we are definitely not there yet. What we have today is a raft of smart technology that can automate certain aspects of driving, which is fantastic.

“The note of caution is that these innovations still require the driver to stay alert and be ready to safely take back control of the wheel should difficulties occur. It is vital that drivers of modern cars understand this, and even more essential that carmakers develop technology that keeps them focused on their responsibilities behind the wheel.

“This is what we call Guardian Angel Technology and Subaru’s DMS is by far the best example we’ve seen in 2019. About 27% of all fatalities are due to the driver being distracted. Subaru’s DMS addresses how people drive and will hopefully make a difference to the number of distracted-driving crashes on our roads due to things like mobile phone use.

“We feel this technology paves the way for the safe adoption of greater levels of automation in the future.”

It also offers great comfort and convenience benefits to motorists, comments Avery: “It can identify individual drivers and pre-set comfort systems accordingly, creating a more seamless integration into the vehicle’s operating environment. The car essentially knows you as an individual and is ready for you when you get in.”

And the runners-up are…

Hyundai’s Centre Side Airbag and BMW’s Drive Recorder system were named runners-up in the Technology Award category.

Hyundai’s centre-console airbag expands into the space between driver and front-seat passenger in the event of a side impact, reducing the potential for head injuries caused by lateral movement between front-seat occupants.

BMW’s Drive Recorder saves video footage before, during and after a collision, providing drivers with video evidence of an incident and helping them to refute bogus claims.

“Like many in the automotive sector, we are devoting greater time and resource to testing and assessing newer forms of Automated Driving technology,” said Avery.

“Yet while automation rightly steals the headlines, we still feel innovations in and new applications for existing, proven safety technology are crucial. Hyundai’s airbag innovation is a novel development in this respect, while BMW’s Drive Recorder has the power to remove some of the conflict within insurance claims and driver disputes.”

Land Rover was also commended for its Ultra-Wideband-based keyless entry system which is more resilient to Relay Attack theft than the frequency used by most other carmakers.

--ENDS--

Thatcham Research is the independent voice of automotive safety, security & repair, advising motorists, insurers and vehicle manufacturers to help reduce accident frequency, severity and costs and to realise the vision of ‘Safer cars, fewer crashes’, while driving standards in vehicle security.

As well as its world leading crash and track research, Thatcham Research develops repair methods amongst a number of other products and services within the collision repair industry for insurers, motor manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

In addition, Thatcham Research has administered the Association of British Insurer’s (ABI) Group Rating system for the past 50 years. Group Rating is an advisory system intended to provide insurers with the relative risk of private cars and light commercial vehicles.

A founder member of the international Research Council for Automobile Repairs (RCAR), Thatcham Research has also been a member of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) since 2004.