28 Jun 18

Apple, Google mobile-based systems seen safer for vehicle infotainment

Vehicle infotainment systems installed at automobile factories are more distracting to drivers than smart-phone based software Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, the AAA Foundation said in a traffic safety study.

AAA conducted tests on five vehicles in the United States, being the 2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E, 2017 Ford Mustang GT, 2018 Chevrolet Silverado LT, 2018 Kia Optima and 2018 Ram 1500 Laramie. While the Optima, Silverado, and 1500 generated moderate demand, the Ridgeline and Mustang required very high demand. 

The study involved determining how much visual and mental demand drivers face when it comes to calling and dialing, text messaging, selecting audio entertainment, programming navigation, and others, addressing issues such as dealing with voice commands, touch screen and other interactive technologies.  

Distractions from these types of controls result in more than 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths per year, according to the US Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

The AAA research found that both CarPlay and Android Auto were 5 seconds faster on average than the vehicle's built-in system when it comes to making a call and 15 seconds faster when programming navigation.

Basically, the two mobile-based software systems require less demand than the factory installed systems, allowing drivers more time with their eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel.

Vehicle touch screen with USB connection for smart-phone systems (Source: Shutterstock) 

As for the difference of the two, CarPlay had lower overall demand than Android Auto for sending text messages, while Android Auto had lower overall demand than CarPlay for programming navigation.

Moreover, CarPlay demand levels were nominally lower with center stack interactions than for auditory/vocal interactions, while Android Auto demand levels were lower with auditory/vocal interactions than for center stack interactions.

"While improvements are necessary before these systems can be considered safe to use while driving, this research shows that smartphone-based software has the potential to offer a simpler, more familiar design that is less confusing to drivers, and therefore less demanding." AAA executive director David Yang said in a release.

Authored by: Daniel Bland