Driverless cars one step closer – or still more questions than answers?

12.00 | 12 October 2017 | | 4 comments

Image: TRL

Autonomous vehicles have moved ‘one step closer’ according to the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), while in contrast a recent conference concluded that the technology is still generating ‘more questions than answers’.

In a press release issued yesterday (11 October), TRL says fully autonomous vehicles are ‘one step closer’ to arriving on the UK’s streets, as a result of the latest ‘groundbreaking’ research from MOVE_UK.

The MOVE_UK consortium, led by Bosch, has completed the first phase in a three-year research programme, designed to make automated driving systems intelligent and safe enough for public roads.

MOVE_UK has developed a new validation method that will reduce the time taken to bring automated driving systems to market, and is also helping insurers develop insurance models associated with automated driving technology.

Arun Srinivasan, from Bosch UK, described the project as “a major step for the UK in becoming a world leader in automated and connected vehicle technology”.

However, the ‘Driver Ahead?’ conference, organised by IAM RoadSmart earlier this month, suggested that driverless cars ‘could create a highway to confusion’ unless training ‘catches up with the fast pace of change’.

More than 100 industry ‘experts’ discussed how the next generation of autonomous cars will record much more information than ever before; data which will be used to resolve any post-crash insurance claims and also, ‘critically’, to inform and personalise future driver training.

Speakers also expressed concerns that some drivers would, inevitably, misuse the vehicle systems – or simply find a way round them if they prove to be ‘too complicated’.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart, said: the conference showed that drivers “will require a great deal of re-educating before entering the world of the autonomous vehicle”.

He added: “There is a myth that the car will do everything for the driver. It is clear the driver will always have a part to play – but is the driver ready for his new role? Clearly not. That’s the reality we have to prepare for.”

Simon Thompson, a human factors specialist at Jaguar Land Rover who contributed to the conference, added: “Without the driving, there will be the desire to do secondary tasks – but how does the car engage with the driver when it needs him or her?

“There is a lot more that needs to be done in designing cars so that controls are easier to find, when asking the driver to take over control again.”

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Research project to look at automated vehicles and driver training
11 October 2017 

Category: Autonomous vehicles.



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    Shouldn’t we just take one small step at a time? The introduction of Intelligent Speed Assistance could cut deaths by 20%, but our government doesn’t seem interested. One wonders what it is waiting for …

    Andrew Fraser, Stirling
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    “..more questions than answers?” I have some: these vehicles are driverless, but somewhere along the way humans will have had to program them to behave correctly and presumably safely, on the roads so…who’s checking the programmers and how do we know the programmers’ own driving credentials are good enough? Supposing bad driving habits are unwittingly being incorporated into these vehicles?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Autonomous vehicles surely are designed to become passenger carriers removing the need to have a driver.

    He added: “There is a myth that the car will do everything for the driver. It is clear the driver will always have a part to play – but is the driver ready for his new role? Clearly not. That’s the reality we have to prepare for.”

    How do you have a driver in a level 5 autonomous vehicle?
    By definition a Driver is someone who drives a vehicle.

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    Whose idea was it anyway? Perhaps the Government should have asked the British public whether they actually wanted autonomous vehicles in the first place before committing such large resources to the scheme.

    I’ve no doubt these vehicles can cope on the wide, relatively open roads around the US HQs of the companies involved and on US cities’ grid layouts, but I have doubts about them ever blending in successfully over here. No doubt like a lot of Americans, some of us like driving ourselves around in our own cars and are not necessarily impatiently awaiting the day when we can have one.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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