If, as La Dolce Vita filmmaker Federico Fellini put it, a different language is a different vision of life, then BSI’s CAM (Connected and Automated Mobility) Vocabulary can make a vital contribution to the introduction of self-driving vehicles.
Sponsored by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), the latest edition, BSI Flex 1890 v5.0, was launched in April 2023. It includes 103 key definitions and 60 commonly used abbreviations.
We spoke to Nick Fleming, Associate Director at BSI (British Standards Institution) – the UK National Standards Body – and the vocabulary’s technical author Dr Nick Reed, of Reed Mobility, to find out more.
On the title, why the shift from CAV to CAM?
NF: “This is the fifth iteration of the Vocabulary we launched in 2020, and it has evolved significantly. By amending the title from CAV to CAM (along with the whole standards programme that BSI is developing with UK government’s CCAV), we are recognising that connected and automated vehicles will exist within a broader transport ecosystem.
“It’s not about looking at self-driving vehicles in isolation. The technologies will be core to a range of future mobility solutions – private vehicles, light passenger services and commercial freight. These will combine to offer the potential to make our transport system more efficient, which can deliver more inclusive and sustainable mobility. Safety is paramount. CAM is where the industry is headed and standards will take that wider viewpoint.”
NR: “Exactly right. CAM better aligns with what the industry is now doing. There’s the Zenzic CAM Roadmap, the government response to the Law Commission used CAM. It presents a strong picture of how the UK is positioning itself, how this technology is going to have such a positive impact on communities and businesses.”
What were the other most interesting changes?
NR: “There was a big expansion in the number of terms in version four, so we’ve rationalised and sharpened the definitions. The beauty of the BSI Flex process is that it allows this kind of rapid evolution – the ability to look back six months on, to update or amend as technologies mature. For example, there have been significant developments in the remote driving arena, so we’ve improved those definitions and removed terms we felt were confusing.
“One definition I particularly like is automated driving. It’s very simple now. Automated driving is when the dynamic driving task is performed by the automated driving system. That’s it. There are notes to help the reader understand exactly what we mean, but that’s a really clear definition of what is, and, just as important, what isn’t, automated driving.
“We’ve removed terms like Software Development Kit and Real Time Kinematics, that weren’t adding much value in a CAM context, and we’ve added helpful terms from other standards, like Static Entity and Dynamic Entity.
“Putting the Vocab together is interesting and challenging, with the technical advisory group including people from academia and the public and private sectors. One day we’ll reach an asymptote where much of the technology is standardised, but we’re not there yet. You only need to look at the media coverage of Ford’s hands-free announcement to see that there’s a lot of work still to do.
“These technologies are evolving rapidly, which is why the Vocab is so important – to help the industry reach that consistency of language. It’s great that government and others see the value, for example, when Innovate UK specified use of it for their Commercialising CAM competition.”
NF: “Dr Reed and the advisory group that worked with BSI to develop and maintain the vocabulary have done a fantastic job when considering work on related policy activities, like the Law Commission’s work on remote driving, during the process of updating the vocab. If the language isn’t right, or if there’s huge variation, it can cause confusion. Clarity can help to build public confidence in a technology that has the opportunity to bring benefit to society, if trust is there.
“It’s not easy to arrive at succinct definitions that everyone’s comfortable with. It requires a lot of consensus building. That’s fundamental to the BSI process. Language is the building block of standards, and we constantly strive to arrive at common acceptance. We know the Vocab has been accessed by companies and authorities the world over – that shows its relevance.”
What role does the Vocab play in BSI’s CAM Standards programme?
NF: “This Vocabulary is fundamental to our wider CAM programme. It was the first standard developed through BSI’s Flex process, which has now been adopted across BSI. We’re increasingly finding, especially in areas of emerging technologies, the value of developing standards in a more agile way – to be able to make changes more frequently. That’s positive from a perspective of informing and supporting regulatory development. Standards work well when they are a common touch point for industry, academia and consumers.
“The industry has been on a bit of a journey, moving from autonomous to automated vehicles, and increasingly we’re now talking about self-driving. We’ll soon be starting work on new standards relating to remote operation of vehicles, including remote driving, looking at both the technical system requirements and, crucially, the human factors element. The technology can be used as a fallback capability for self-driving vehicles, and for vehicles with more limited automation – to deliver and collect lease vehicles, for instance.
“Over the next few years, we’ll be looking at standards focused on the testing and validation of self-driving technologies – thinking about cybersecurity and what good operational safety looks like. Standards can help to ensure that the transition from advanced trials to commercial deployment happens safely, bringing all the societal benefits to life.”
NR: “There’s a lot of hype around AI at the moment – how it produces good answers most of the time, but sometimes answers that are either incorrect or unexpected. When we’re talking about safety critical systems for drivers, passengers and other road users, we need to have that sense of assurance that they will do the right things at the right time, reliably and acceptably. The Vocab provides a strong basis for what the Secretary of State for Transport is likely to be considering when listing a vehicle as self-driving.”
For a free copy of the CAM Vocabulary click here and there’s an option to provide feedback via the red “Read draft and comment” button.