Project Encode demonstrates live switching between manual driving, self-driving and teleoperation in Oxford and London.

Another UK self-driving 1st: Project Encode demonstrates transfer of control between manual, autonomous and teleoperation

In another UK self-driving first, Project Encode recently demonstrated transfer of control across three states – manual driving, autonomous driving and teleoperation – in live vehicle tests in Oxford and London.

Backed by the DfT’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) – like CAVForth – and Innovate UK, partners in the project included technology specialist StreetDrone, IoT security company Angoka, Coventry University and Oxfordshire County Council.

Manual to self-driving to remote operation

The aim was to illustrate how automation can be progressively introduced into industrial settings, with autonomous systems managing the more straightforward vehicle operations and remote drivers stepping in to handle more complex tasks as necessary.

Project Encode demonstration video 

The consortium says this proof of concept – delivering transferable responsibility for vehicle control in a cyber-secure context – is central to advancing the application of driverless and teleoperated vehicles across logistics networks.

Official comments

StreetDrone CEO, Mike Potts, said: “The success of this trial, conducted not in a controlled environment but out on the public highway, is blending autonomous technologies with teleoperation to prove an advanced level of technology readiness that can deliver much-needed efficiencies into the supply chain.

“Where tasks are too complex for autonomous technologies, teleoperations steps in. This integration provides a ‘ready-now’ solution and it has been a sight to behold.”

Project Encode – manual driving, self-driving and teleoperation
Project Encode – manual driving, self-driving and teleoperation

Dr Giedre Sabaliauskaite, Associate Professor at Coventry University’s Systems Security Group, part of the Centre for Future Transport and Cities (CFTC), added: “It is very important security assurance processes are addressed through the design and engineering cycle.

“This demonstration through the Encode project offers an opportunity to establish a rigorous assurance cycle, ultimately for wider public acceptance.”

CAVForth self-driving bus begins landmark two-week road trial in Scotland

UK self-driving success as CAVForth bus project conducts first public road test

A full-size autonomous bus took to public roads for the first time in the UK this week, as CAVForth began a landmark two-week trial in Scotland.

Cars of the Future readers will recognise the name as, almost a year ago to the day, we published a long-read interview with Jim Hutchinson, CEO of Fusion Processing, one of the partners in the project, along with Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland.

Self-driving expert and CEO of Fusion Processing, Jim Hutchinson
Self-driving expert and CEO of Fusion Processing, Jim Hutchinson

He explained then how Fusion was involved in the Gateway project in London, and how that led to CAVForth. “The hope is that it will go from a pilot service to a full service,” he said. “It’s being registered as a new route, providing a service that wasn’t previously there, and Stagecoach anticipate around 10,000 journeys a week.

“The route includes a mix of road environments – motorway, bus lanes, roundabouts, signalled interchanges – so from our point of view it makes for a great demonstration of capability. There’s the technology side, which Fusion is focussed on, but there’s also key research around public acceptance.

“It will be a very significant achievement to demonstrate a Level 4 capability on that class of vehicle – a big thing for the UK which will be noticed around the world.”

UK self-driving first

Well, 12 months on, CAVForth is very much on schedule. Level 4 automation, according to the SAE International standard, means no human is driving and, unlike Level 3, won’t be required to take over. Make no mistake, this is a big deal.

Around 500 members of the public have provided feedback on what would make them feel “comfortable and confident in travelling”. As a result, a decision has been made to keep a member of staff on board.

The test phase will run for two weeks in preparation for the launch of the CAVForth pilot this summer. That’s when things will get really exciting, with passengers.

Stagecoach plans to recruit 20 specially trained ‘Autonomous Bus Professionals’ from across its East Scotland business. When the service goes live, these experienced bus drivers will monitor the autonomous system alongside a ‘Captain’, who will move around the bus answering any questions passengers may have about the service.

Part-funded by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), five single-decker autonomous buses will operate at SAE Level 4 over the Forth Road Bridge, between Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park Train and Tram Interchange.

The buses will be fitted with Fusion Processing’s CAVstar sensor and control technology, enabling them to run on pre-selected roads without the safety driver having to intervene.

A nugget to note here, as Hutchinson explained to us last year: “We developed the CAVstar platform as a scalable solution – a drive system we could put into pretty much any vehicle, from small cars up to HGV.” Think about the potential.

The CAVForth buses will carry up to 36 passengers over a 14-mile route and, to support the project, Transport Scotland recently opened a section of Actively Managed Hard Shoulder for all buses on the M8 eastbound.

CAVForth self-driving bus with Fusion Processing tech and branding
CAVForth self-driving bus with Fusion Processing tech and branding

Official comments

Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland, said: “This is a hugely exciting project for Scotland and we are pleased to be starting live testing on roads. This is a major step forward in our journey to launch the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service and will provide easy access to a brand-new bus route in the heart of East Scotland.”

Chris Gall, Group Engineering Director at busmaker Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), said: “CAVForth helps us to explore new technologies that will make buses even safer and more efficient. As we move towards passenger services later in the year, the project will be a landmark demonstration of future technologies in transport.”

Jim Hutchinson added: “We are delighted to be leading the world’s most complex and ambitious autonomous vehicle programme. CAVForth will provide a useful service to local people as well as being a great demonstration of Fusion’s automated vehicle technology.

“On road testing is an exciting milestone in the development of autonomous commercial vehicles and we look forward to welcoming passengers onboard in a few months’ time.”

Interest in self-driving

As an indicator of growing interest in the project, satirical site Newsthump ran a story on it this week, under the headline “UK’s first self-driving bus passes ‘ignore passengers running to bus stop’ test”.

It may be mainstream now but, remember, you heard it here first.

Changes to The Highway Code move Britain “closer to a self-driving revolution”.

UK Highway Code self-driving announcement sparks media uproar

In a major development for connected and automated mobility (CAM) in the UK, on 20 April 2022 the government set out changes to The Highway Code to move Britain “closer to a self-driving revolution”.

The announcement, by Department for Transport (DfT), the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), and Trudy Harrison MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the DfT, certainly had the wow factor.

Self-driving safety

The bullet points at the start stated the important overriding aim to “ensure the first self-driving vehicles are introduced safely on UK roads”.

The planned changes to The Highway Code are therefore intended to “clarify drivers’ responsibilities in self-driving vehicles, including when a driver must be ready to take back control”.

Eyebrows were raised at the line: “While travelling in self-driving mode, motorists must be ready to resume control in a timely way if they are prompted to – such as when they approach motorway exits.”

More hyperbolic self-driving headlines

But the announcement ran into real trouble with this: “The plans also include a change to current regulation, allowing drivers to view content that is not related to driving on built-in display screens, while the self-driving vehicle is in control. It will, however, still be illegal to use mobile phones in self-driving mode, given the greater risk they pose in distracting drivers.”

The national press went into meltdown and we’ll look at this in more detail in a special edition of Hyperbolic Self-driving Headlines. But it was enough to prompt senior CAM industry figures to come out in defence of the technology.

Edward Houghton, Head of Research and Service Design at DG Cities, took to Twitter to criticise a Guardian article – A self-driving revolution? Don’t believe the hype: we’re barely out of second gear – for significantly playing down where self-driving R&D is in the UK and for failing to acknowledge its potential to improve road safety.

List of cars approved for self-driving

Back to the announcement itself. This section is worth rereading: “Britain’s first vehicles approved for self-driving could be ready for use later this year. Vehicles will undergo rigorous testing and only be approved as self-driving when they have met stringent standards.”

What does that actually mean? Ever astute, Barrister Alex Glassbrook, who last year expressed real doubts about proposed changes to the Highway Code, took to Linkedin to highlight the launch of a new government webpage for “Self-driving vehicles listed for use in Great Britain”.

At the time of publication the page lists, er, no vehicles. However, it does include the line “You must insure your self-driving vehicle as self-driving”.

New webpage to check if a vehicle is listed as self-driving for use in Great Britain
New webpage to check if a vehicle is listed as self-driving for use in Great Britain

So, the question remains: Will cars equipped with Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) be the first to make the grade and be official recognised as “automated”?

Glassbrook also noted a 2025 target for having a full regulatory framework in place to support the widespread deployment of self-driving technology.

Official comments

The announcement – which asserted that self-driving vehicles could create 38,000 new, high-skilled jobs in Britain by 2035 – was accompanied by statements from Transport Minister Trudy Harrison, the RAC’s Steve Gooding and the SMMT’s Mike Hawes.

Transport Minister Harrison said: “This is a major milestone in our safe introduction of self-driving vehicles, which will revolutionise the way we travel, making our future journeys greener, safer and more reliable.

“This exciting technology is developing at pace right here in Great Britain and we’re ensuring we have strong foundations in place for drivers when it takes to our roads.

“In doing so, we can help improve travel for all while boosting economic growth across the nation and securing Britain’s place as a global science superpower.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The Highway Code has been updated a number of times in recent years. These latest additions will help us all understand what we must and must not do as we move forward to an environment where cars drive themselves.

“The final part of the jigsaw is to ensure these amendments are widely communicated to, ​and understood by,​ vehicle owners. Vehicle manufacturers and sellers will have a vital role to play in ensuring their customers fully appreciate the capabilities of the cars they buy and the rules that govern them.”

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “Amending The Highway Code to reflect the pace of technological change will help clarify what motorists can and can’t do when a self-driving feature is engaged, so promoting its safe use.”

As you can imagine, there was reaction to the news from across the automotive industry, including the service and repair sector.

Neil Atherton, Sales and Marketing Director at Autoglass, rightly drew attention to the need for sensor recalibration.

“Much has been made of the dawn of fully autonomous vehicles, but in reality many of these technologies are already in our vehicles,” he said.

“Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), especially the windscreen fitted sensors that monitor road conditions and hazards in real time, will need to be fitted in all new cars rolling off the production line later this year, and drivers and the wider automotive industry need to be ready to use and maintain them properly. 

“Calibration and recalibration of these technologies is absolutely critical for their effective operation.”

Watch what happens when SFPD pull a driverless Cruise robotaxi on April Fools’ Day 2022

Full 3 minute video: Police stop self-driving car in San Francisco – “Ain’t nobody in it!” and then it drives off

A video has gone viral of San Francisco police pulling over a Cruise robotaxi only to find it completely devoid of humans, a truly driverless self-driving car. “Ain’t nobody in it!” the officer says.

Then, with comic timing, when the officer turns his back, the car – a modified Chevrolet Bolt – drives off, pulling over again on the other side of an intersection, with the police car in pursuit, lights flashing.

Watch police pull a self-driving car

Video of police stopping self-driving car in San Francisco by Brandon Melim via ViralHog 

As previously reported, General Motors–backed Cruise started offering automated rides to the public in San Francisco with no safety driver in February.

On the night in question – hilariously 1st April 2022, April Fools’ Day (honestly, you couldn’t make it up!) – officers pulled the car because it was driving at night without headlights. Cruise later said this was due to human error.

The video was posted to Instagram by b.rad916 with the comment: “Confused SFPD pulling over an autonomous vehicle in the Richmond District!! Then it tries to take off!!”, followed by the grinning squinting face and police car emojis.

Police stop self-driving car in San Francisco by Brandon Melim via ViralHog
Police stop self-driving car in San Francisco by Brandon Melim via ViralHog

He later explained: “My friends and I were walking home from dinner down Clement Street when we heard police sirens. We didn’t think much of it but when I looked over, I noticed there was nobody driving, so I pulled out my phone and started recording.

“When the officers got the Cruise autonomous car to pull over, they approached the vehicle and the windows rolled down. Turned out they initiated the stop because it was driving without its headlights on.

“I thought it was funny that the officers were so confused and found it funny (they were laughing and pacing back-and-forth). I also thought it was strange that the cops think it’s necessary for a robot car to need headlights to see. I’m sure the cameras and AI are advanced enough to navigate safely at night and can see better than the human eye.”

What about other cars seeing it though? Anyway, mirth abounded with amused onlookers, presumably quite familiar with these revolutionary cars of the future, laughing and joking… as if they’d been waiting for something like this to happen.

The best comments heard on the video include: “Ain’t nobody in it”, “This is crazy”, “Are you serious? How does that happen?”, “Oh my god I have to watch this”, “Can you send that to me please?”, “Guys… oh my god, finally”, “So it stops when pulled over? Automatically?”, “We’ve got a code 7 here” – apparently a reference to police radio code for out of service to eat – and, simply, “What the f***”.

Official responses

The San Francisco Police Department reportedly confirmed: “On Friday, April 1, 2022, at approximately 10:00pm officers observed a vehicle travelling without activated headlights at Clement Street and 8th Avenue.

“Officers stopped behind the vehicle and discovered that there was no driver in the vehicle and no other occupant was present. During this contact officers affected a traffic stop. The vehicle moved forward but stopped again to yield for the officers.

“During the stop officers made contact with the remote operator of the driverless vehicle. Upon the officer’s notification a maintenance team responded to the vehicle’s location and took control of the vehicle. No citation was issued during the traffic stop.”

A pretty lenient response, basically: no ticket on this occasion, be on your way.

Cruise responded on Twitter on 10 April: “Chiming in with more details: our AV yielded to the police vehicle, then pulled over to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop, as intended. An officer contacted Cruise personnel and no citation was issued.”

Before adding: “We work closely with the SFPD on how to interact with our vehicles, including a dedicated phone number for them to call in situations like this.”

The company also highlighted its November 2021 YouTube video Interacting with a Cruise Autonomous Vehicle: A Guide for First Responders.

Only in California, you might say, but how long before we see such incidents in the UK?


Tara Andringa, Executive Director of Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE) talks self-driving surveys, international expansion and more

Meet the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE) in Europe

Of the 100+ features I’ve done for Cars of the Future, the one I find myself quoting most is last summer’s Letters from America: Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE). In particular, the evidence that live self-driving vehicle demonstration events are highly effective in boosting public trust.

The organisation with a mission to “inform the public about automated vehicles” is expanding fast – launching PAVE Canada in February and now, PAVE Europe.

Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE) in Europe

On 17 March 2022, at the Autonomy Paris sustainable mobility conference, PAVE Europe announced six “Founding Members”, and a very prestigious bunch they are too. In alphabetical order: financial services provider, Achmea; autonomous vehicle technology specialists, EasyMile and Mobileye; the world’s largest reinsurer, Swiss Re; Cologne-based safety tester TÜV Rheinland; and the company born of Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo.

From a UK perspective, we note the involvement of Lukas Nekermann, MD of London-based Neckermann Strategic Advisors and author of the influential 2015 book, The Mobility Revolution. Both he and Frederic John, who together co-authored 2020’s Being Driven, are credited as the “co-initiators” of PAVE Europe.

We caught up with Tara Andringa, Executive Director of PAVE, to find out more.

Tara Andringa, Executive Director of Partners for Automated Vehicle Education
Tara Andringa, Executive Director of Partners for Automated Vehicle Education

TA: “We’ve achieved a lot since your last article – made progress on projects we spoke about and launched some brand new ones too.

“Our weekly virtual panels, which began during Covid, have continued to go extremely well. We thought there might be some Zoom fatigue once people got back to work, but in fact they’ve gotten more popular. We’ve had more than 16,000 people register for the panels live, and we have had an additional 20,000 views on YouTube.

“The virtual panels are a great way to spread the conversation about AVs and in January we won a prestigious award for them – a National Communications Award for Outstanding Public Education at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) conference in Washington.

Partners for Automated Vehicle Education at the TRB conference 2021
Partners for Automated Vehicle Education at the TRB conference 2021
Automated Vehicle Survey

“Another major success last fall was our survey work. We put together a powerhouse group with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and JD Power to track longitudinally how views change over time. We released the first results in November and we’re going to make it an annual thing.”

The headline result in 2021 was that only 37% of respondents correctly identified the description of a fully automated self-driving vehicle (according to SAE International’s definition) from seven possibilities. 55% of respondents selected descriptions aligned with driver assistance technology.

The results led Lisa Boor, senior manager of global automotive at J.D. Power, to quote the robot from Lost In Space, describing “a ‘Danger, Will Robinson’ moment for the fully automated self-driving vehicle industry”, with “a significant gap between actual and perceived AV knowledge.” 

TA: “Another thing we mentioned last time was our public sector workshop with the state of Ohio. We’ve tried to really build out that program, working a lot on state engagement here in the United States. We help to educate public sector officials, to give them the information they need to make choices for their communities and educate their constituencies.”

Which brings us to your international expansion.

TA: “Yes. We’ve realised that, while every government is taking a different regulatory approach, the public confusion and misperceptions are a global phenomenon. So, we’ve decided to expand PAVE’s mission elsewhere, so each country or continent will have its own chapter or sister organisation.

“Public sector engagement is such an important part of this. Each government is looking at different policy options, but this is a global industry.  Our new Canadian and European members will be able to network with our US members, to collaborate, but also do their own thing, run their own events tailored to local needs.”

For more on PAVE Europe visit

For fans of burning rubber it might be hard to take, but self-driving cars are here and now

Bullitt was peak 20th century, self-driving is sensational San Francisco today

The first quarter of 2022 has seen two giant leaps forward for self-driving in America. First, in February, General Motors–backed Cruise started offering robotaxi rides to the public in San Francisco… with no safety driver.

Then, in March, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) removed the necessity for autonomous vehicles to have manual controls including, notably, a steering wheel.

Cruise self-driving robotaxi

Cruise posted a video showing consumers’ reactions to riding in a truly driverless taxi – they ranged from “This is so cool” to “Just weird”, “Slightly scary” to “A lot smoother than I was expecting”, and probably most astutely: “I am literally witnessing the future”.

General Motors (GM) chief executive, Mary Barra, told shareholders: “This major milestone brings Cruise even closer to offering its first paid rides and generating $50bn in annual revenue by the end of the decade.”

Make no mistake, this is a significant development: A household-name US vehicle manufacturer (VM) operating a driverless taxi with no safety driver in a popular global tourist destination.

Not just any old city either – the streets of San Francisco, so closely associated with the iconic high speed car chase from the Steve McQueen film Bullitt. For fans of burning rubber and squealing brakes, it will be hard to take, but that was 1968, over half a century ago. V8 Ford Mustangs and Dodge Chargers are history. Self-driving cars are the future.

If you need further convincing, you need only look to the historic NHTSA announcement, on 10 March 2022, eliminating the need for manufacturers to equip fully autonomous vehicles with a steering wheel.

It’s something we were speculating about at Cars of the Future just last summer – when we looked at Audi’s Grandsphere concept car, with a steering wheel which folds neatly away when in hands-free mode. It’s also a startling indicator of just how rapidly this industry is moving.

Audi Grandsphere concept car steering wheel sketch
Audi Grandsphere self-driving concept

US self-driving law change

The legislative change follows lobbying by General Motors and updates the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards related to occupant protection in vehicles with an automated driving system (ADS).

NHTSA Deputy Administrator, Steven Cliff, commented: “As the driver changes from a person to a machine in ADS-equipped vehicles, the need to keep the humans safe remains the same and must be integrated from the beginning.”

America is surging ahead in self-driving and if the UK wants to remain “at the forefront of this change”, as the Government says, we’d better get our skates on.

Neil Kennett reviews the CAM Innovators self-driving industry event in London, March 2022

Self-driving event report #1 2022: CAM Innovators living the future mobility dream

As my first industry do in London for two years, the Zenzic Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) Innovators event 2022 was always going to be memorable. Actually, it was much better than that. It was a fantastic day packed with astute analysis and exciting announcements about self-driving in the UK.

It was also a reminder of the shared vision – the belief that we’re on the cusp of something momentous, that this technology can deliver seismic safety and societal benefits. And this is no pipedream. Thanks to a lot of hard work over many years by an array of seriously talented people, there’s a detailed Roadmap of exactly how we’ll get there.

Let’s talk self-driving

For starters, we couldn’t have wished for a more impressive venue – The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on The Embankment, near Waterloo Bridge. Passing the statue of Michael Faraday, the father of electromagnetism, I bumped into a former colleague before I’d even reached the front door. How nice to see Tom Flisher of Thatcham – a real live human – after all the remote communications of the pandemic.

Hands up, I missed the morning sessions on cyber resilience, vehicle to everything (V2X) and the Interoperable Simulation project. Catching the fast train in to London to attend a real world event is, admittedly, more time consuming and expensive than clicking into a Teams meeting.

We’ll look at the Interoperable Simulation project in more detail another day as it’s a prime example of joined-up thinking, designed to enable seamless testing across the CAM Testbed UK facilities.

The main reason for attending, I thought, was to hear about the latest six UK-based companies selected for Zenzic’s CAM Scale-Up Programme – a business accelerator for almost ready-for-market products and services that can “meet required safety standards and operate in real-world environments”. There’s also the small matter of sharing £500,000 of government funding.

Of the six winners announced in October 2021, four are London-based: geolocation solution provider Albora; Intelligent CCTV designer Exeros; sensor fusion system developer Grayscale AI; and insurance claims visualiser Xtract 360. The other two are: Cambridge-based vulnerable road user safety specialist R4DAR; and Cardiff-based real-time movement experts Route Konnect.

Each will be supported by the UK government – via the Department for Transport’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) – and innovation platform Plug and Play. They’ll get time at the testbeds, benefit from introductions to corporate partners (including Honda, Thales and Vodafone), and gain access to a global network investor platform. Watch this space for in-depth profiles.

The curious among you will have noted the “I thought” a couple of paragraphs ago. Of course, hearing from these exceptional innovators was great, but the best was yet to come.

Wired editor and futurist Jeremy White talks self-driving at the CAM Innovators event 2022
Wired editor and futurist Jeremy White talks self-driving at the CAM Innovators event 2022

Following an entertaining whip through automotive history with Wired editor and futurist Jeremy White – who urged the self-driving industry to “hurry up!” and make connected and automated mobility a reality – we adjourned to the Haslett & Flowers room for networking drinks.

And that’s where the magic happened: Talking shop and shooting the breeze with people I’d just met, connected with on Linkedin, interviewed on Zoom, been on mute with for hours. That’s where you hear the backstories and inspirations, discover obscure but pertinent bits of information, and see early signs of the next big things.

A maelstrom of tech wizards and engineers, CEOs and interns, the odd safety campaigner and motoring hack, most cautious about over-promising but overwhelmingly excited and optimistic about the fast-approaching road transport revolution.

That’s what self-driving industry events are all about. That’s what we’ve been missing.

DG Cities surveys UK views on driverless cars – roughly a third in favour, a third against and a third undecided.

Happy to go driverless? D-Risk reveals even 36/29/35 UK opinion split

DG Cities, a London-based company specialising in people-centred smart city technologies, has conducted interesting research into the UK public’s views on driverless cars.

The headline result was: Of 1,034 people surveyed in 2021, 36.4% would be happy to ride in an autonomous vehicle (AV) tomorrow, with 28.5% undecided and 35.1% less keen.

There were significant differences across the age groups, with over half (56.1%) of 18-34 year-olds confident that self-driving cars will be safer than human-driven vehicles, compared to less than a third (30.3%) of those aged 55 and over.

The work was part of the Innovate UK funded D-Risk project, focused on improving the safety of self-driving cars. DG Cities’ D-Risk partners include AI specialist, software developer Claytex and Imperial College London.

We spoke to Edward Houghton, Head of Research and Service Design at DG Cities, to find out more.

Public engagement on driverless

EH: “We’re an urban innovation company looking at new technologies within cities to understand how they can be implemented with the public and communities in mind. We work on projects based around new tech, like autonomous vehicles, and we speak to the public about their experiences, supporting tech developers to implement their products in the most safe and appropriate way.

Autonomous vehicles get a lot of press interest and, because the technology is still very much in development, the public rightly have questions. It’s a really interesting topic. I’m a behavioural scientist and environmental engineer, so my interest is in the public perception side – how people see and understand these vehicles, their experiences of using them.

“We look at how people could use this type of service in the future, and the kind of ethical design requirements the technologies will need to work effectively. DG Cities specialises in engaging the public in the debate around autonomous vehicles, working with our partners to understand how we can make the technology accessible.”

Driverless perception age differences

EH: “The idea was to try and understand how ready the UK public is to adopt this type of technology. We provided a definition of what we mean by self-driving – a vehicle that can operate by itself between points A and B with minimal human interaction.

“We found some interesting differences according to age. Older people seemed to be more concerned about safety and didn’t necessarily trust the vehicle to make the right decision. Younger people were far more likely to say they would trust the vehicle.

“There are a number of reasons why this might be the case. For example, older people may have seen technologies in the past that they now don’t trust, or there may be a low level of tech literacy.”

Near miss data

EH: “DG Cities has been a partner in other autonomous vehicle projects – we ran engagement on the driverless trial in Greenwich a few years – but D-Risk was the first where we looked specifically at safety and trust, and also tried to collect edge cases.

“The really unique part of D-Risk is the knowledge graph – our “map” of real-life edge cases from traffic cameras and police accident reports. We’re also using Facebook to ask the public about complex scenarios they’ve experienced – extraordinary things an autonomous vehicle might need to deal with.

“Whether you’re a driver or not, we’ve all heard scary stories of when things go wrong. But accident reports only capture incidents, so data on near misses is missing. The public can tell us about when they got very close to being in a severe accident. That’s very powerful in terms of adding to the library. Our partners then turn it into simulation and coding to train the vehicles.”

D-Risk report on driverless cars 2021
D-Risk Community Insights Report on driverless cars 2021

For more info and to read the full report visit

Relationship between driverless cars, the media and consumer confidence reflected in five hyperbolic headlines.

Driverless cars: public trust peril in 5 hyperbolic headlines

Self-driving experts talk constantly of the need to earn public trust, but driverless cars continue to divide opinion. Indeed, recent surveys have shown that people are becoming more, not less, wary of them.

Just this week, in Inverness, Scotland, where an autonomous bus trial is due to start later this year, The Inverness Courier reported significant resistance to the idea. 69% of respondents to its survey of local residents said they would refuse to get on a driverless bus.

What we need, of course, is for the media to convey an informed and nuanced safety message. Hmm! To illustrate the scale of the task, here’s a list of our top five hyperbolic headlines:

Top 5 driverless car hyperbolic headlines

At No.5, a downbeat new entry from The Express: “Driverless cars could have a ‘negative impact’ – ‘worrying results’ for road users”.

At No.4, peak pessimism in this 2019 classic from The New York Post: “Why humanity will come to regret inventing self-driving cars”.

At No.3, a prediction of economic disaster from The Telegraph in 2019: “Driverless cars are the new dot-com bubble”.

At No.2, straight up weird from Forbes in 2019: “Self-Driving Cars Could Spark A Religious Revival Among Young Americans”.

And, at No.1, another new entry, straight into the top spot, from Yahoo News in November 2021: “Watch Tesla’s full self-driving mode almost kill a CNN reporter”.

The autonomous vehicle industry has a consumer confidence mountain to climb! editor Neil Kennett to moderate sessions on AI and self-driving at Auto Tech 2022

Reuters Auto Tech 2022: Carsofthefuture editor urges Tesla to emphasise safety-critical self-driving advice

On a mission to drive more sensible debate about self-driving, has renewed its media partnership with Reuters Events for the Auto Tech 2022 digital conference on 14-15 June.

The prestigious two-day online event will enable technology providers and automotive companies to meet and do business with vehicle manufacturers (VMs) including Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Daimler, Fisker, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Opel and Toyota.

Confirmed speakers include Mercedes Benz Mobility chief executive Franz Reiner, Hyundai Motor Company chief safety officer Brian Latouf, Polestar chief operating officer Dennis Nobelius and Lucid Motors vice president of software validation Margaret Burgraff.

Self-driving and AI at Auto Tech 2022

As part of The Key Steps Towards Safer Roads programme on 15 June, editor Neil Kennett will moderate two sessions: 1) “The Growing Presence of AI”, with Sammy Omari, vice president of autonomy at Motional, and; 2) “Where are we on the journey to full automation?”, with Xinzhou Wu, head of Xpeng Motors’ Autonomous Driving Centre.

The former will cover the value of artificial intelligence in testing cutting-edge systems and its role in autonomous vehicle (AV) decision making. The latter will cover autonomous driving, in-car connectivity and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), evaluating the progress made and exploring when carmakers expect to introduce fully automated features. editor, Neil Kennett, said: “I’m delighted to renew our partnership with Reuters and look forward to lively discussions about these phenomenal but controversial technologies. It’s a shame, given everything Tesla’s done for electric cars, that so many hyperbolic headlines are caused by its confusingly-named Full Self-Driving (FSD) package. It simply isn’t self-driving as the rest of the industry understands it.

Conflating assisted and automated driving is dangerous, because it risks drivers misunderstanding what their cars are capable of. News of so-called driverless car crashes then dents consumer confidence – the last thing the industry needs at such a crucial time in terms of public perception. These are safety-critical issues and utmost clarity is vital. For the near future at least, the best advice is that drivers need to be alert at all times.”

Nabil Awan, automotive conference producer at Reuters Events, added: “The moves towards greater connectivity and autonomy that we are seeing will lead to safer roads while also deeply transforming the auto industry as we know it today. Our unique Auto Tech 2022 event will give innovators and technology providers a chance to discuss the latest advances and come away with valuable intelligence with which to drive the evolution of the sector.”

Auto Tech 2022 self-driving and AI
Carsofthefuture editor will moderate sessions on self-driving and AI at Auto Tech 2022

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