New survey on ADAS and self-driving by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in America raises questions for UK legislators and motorists

Who wants self-driving anyway? US survey finds 80% love ADAS but not hands-free

A new survey on full and partial self-driving by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in America has found significant mistrust of automated lane changing systems, with drivers preferring to stay hands-on and initiate the manoeuvre themselves.

The IIHS – a respected non-profit educational organization dedicated to reducing deaths from motor vehicle crashes – surveyed over 1,000 drivers on questions related to partial automation between September and October 2021, with the results published in June 2022.

The headline finding was that 80% wanted to use “at least some form of lane centering” – a strong endorsement for what we Brits call automated lane keeping systems (ALKS).

Report covers ADAS & ADS

IIHS report on consumer demand for ADAS and self-driving June 2022
IIHS report on consumer demand for ADAS and self-driving June 2022

36% preferred “hands-on-wheel” lane keeping, compared to 27% for “hands-free”, with 18% having no preference between the two types, 16% not wanting to use any form of lane keeping and 4% being unsure.

If you think that shows an appreciation of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) but a mistrust of conditionally automated driving systems (ADS), the next finding appears to confirm that.

Asked about lane changing assistance (as opposed to just lane keeping), 73% said they would use some form of auto lane change. However, 45% said they’d prefer to use driver-initiated auto lane change compared to only 14% for vehicle-initiated auto lane change. 23% said they wouldn’t use either type, 13% had no preference and 5% were unsure.

What’s more, on self-driving technology, 35% said they found it “extremely appealing” while 23% said it was “not at all appealing”.

Alexandra Mueller, the IIHS survey’s primary designer, commented: “Automakers often assume that drivers want as much technology as they can get in their vehicles. But few studies have examined actual consumer opinions about partial driving automation.

“It may come as a surprise to some people, but it appears that partially automated features that require the driver’s hands to be on the wheel are actually closer to one-size-fits-all than hands-free designs.”

Another eye-catching finding was the high number of people “at least somewhat comfortable” with in-cabin driver monitoring to support such systems: 70% for steering wheel sensors, 59% for camera monitoring of driver hands and 57% for camera monitoring of driver gaze.

“The drivers who were the most comfortable with all types of driver monitoring tended to say they would feel safer knowing that the vehicle was monitoring them to ensure they were using the feature properly,” said Mueller.

“That suggests that communicating the safety rationale for monitoring may help to ease consumers’ concerns about privacy or other objections.”

Self-driving questions

For us, the study is particularly interesting in terms of the UK government’s plan to list vehicles approved under the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) Regulation as self-driving.

For the drivers of certain new high tech cars, this could be the first time that any hands-free driving becomes legal on UK roads. The current suggestion is for this to be restricted to slow motorway traffic (max 37mph), initially at least.

Further still, the acceptance of driver monitoring seems relevant to point four of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Connected and Automated Mobility’s seven expert recommended red lines: “Establish minimum standards for data sharing and handling to ensure transparency and effective governance”. 

The full IIHS report is available here.

Transport Select Committee to scrutinise the development and deployment of self-driving vehicles on UK roads.

August 22 deadline for evidence to new Transport Select Committee inquiry into self-driving vehicles

On 27 June, the Transport Select Committee announced a new inquiry into self-driving vehicles and issued a Call for Evidence.

Chaired by Huw Merriman MP, with a remit to hold Transport Ministers to account and to investigate matters of public concern, the influential cross-party group will scrutinise the development and deployment of self-driving road vehicles.

Transport Select Committee chair Huw Merriman MP to scrutinise self-driving
Transport Select Committee chair Huw Merriman MP to scrutinise self-driving

It follows confirmation that the Transport Bill announced in the recent Queen’s Speech will introduce comprehensive legislation for self-driving vehicles in the UK.

Other heavyweight issues currently before the Transport Select Committee include the integrated rail plan, the national bus strategy and road pricing.

Call for evidence on self-driving

The Call for Evidence on self-driving vehicles reads: “We are particularly interested in receiving written evidence that addresses: 

  • Likely uses, including private cars, public transport and commercial vehicles;
  • Progress of research and trials in the UK and abroad;
  • Potential implications for infrastructure, both physical and digital;
  • The regulatory framework, including legal status and approval and authorisation processes;
  • Safety and perceptions of safety, including the relationship with other road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and conventionally driven vehicles;
  • The role of Government and other responsible bodies, such as National Highways and local authorities; and potential effects on patterns of car ownership, vehicle taxation and decarbonisation in the car market.”

The deadline for evidence is Monday 22 August 2022.

Highlights from BSI’s June 2022 self-driving white paper “Connected and automated vehicles: A review of the UK’s legislation and good practice”

New BSI white paper on UK self-driving legislation and good practice

Best known for its Kitemark scheme, the British Standards Institution (BSI) has published a helpful review of UK self-driving legislation and good practice.

The June 2022 white paper “Connected and automated vehicles: A review of the UK’s legislation and good practice” was written by Lucy Pegler, Partner at law firm Burges Salmon and technical co-author of the PAS 1882 standard.

Exec summary

The stated purpose of the publication is to assist those developing, trialling, testing and deploying CAVs in the UK. In particular, it provides guidance on the interrelationship between the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles’ Code of Practice (CCAV CoP), BSI’s own CAV Standards Programme and current legislative requirements.

The executive summary consists of a diagram explaining what’s legally binding and what’s only advised.

BSI self-driving white paper executive summary diagram
BSI self-driving white paper executive summary diagram

CCAV CoP

On the CCAV CoP, the white paper notes that: a) A driver must be present, in or out of the vehicle, who is ready, able, and willing to resume control of the vehicle; b) The vehicle must be roadworthy; and c) There must be appropriate insurance in place.

Top of the list under “aims and objectives” is increasing public confidence.

BSI CAV Standards

On the BSI CAV Standards Programme, it notes that: “BSI have developed and published a number of standards relating to CAVs with the aim of providing a set of industry standards.” These include:

PAS 1880 on the design guidelines for developing CAV control systems.

PAS 1881 on the requirements for operational safety cases. 

PAS 1882 on the collection, curation, storage and sharing of information during CAV trials.

PAS 1883 on defining operational design domains (ODD).

PAS 1884 on the requirements for the use of a safety operator.

PAS 1885 on protections against cyber security threats.

BSI Flex 1890 – the CAV vocabulary – on consistency of terminology.

Self-driving law

Section 5 covers The Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission’s review of the legal framework for automated vehicles, plus relevant rules under the following:

The Road Traffic Act 1988 

The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986

The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999

The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The UK General Data Protection Regulation

It reiterates once again UK Government’s controversial plan “to list ALKS models as automated vehicles from 2022” and highlights the Law Commissions’ recommendation that automated vehicles must be able to record and store data necessary for incident investigation.

Conclusion

The conclusion concludes: “Adopting the recommended good practice in the PAS standards supports trialling organizations compliance with current legislation and may support preparation for compliance with a future automated vehicles act enshrining the Law Commissions’ recommendations.”

To request a free copy of the BSI white paper, please click here.

Reaction to first monthly NHTSA data on crashes involving vehicles with ADAS and ADS.

US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publishes first monthly report into ADAS and ADS crashes

On 15 June, the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the first of what will be monthly reports into crashes involving vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and more advanced automated driving systems (ADS).

ADAS

In brief, for SAE Level 2 ADAS equipped vehicles, 367 crashes were reported from July 2021 to 15 May 2022, resulting in six fatalities and five cases of serious injury. Tesla reported the most, followed by Honda and Subaru.

Cue the headlines, “Tesla Autopilot and Other Driver-Assist Systems Linked to Hundreds of Crashes” in the New York Times and “Teslas running Autopilot involved in 273 crashes reported since last year” in the Washington Post.

However, the United States Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) shed light on this, explaining that “Teslas are connected to the internet and automatically report if the car was in Autopilot when it crashed. Honda asks its drivers if they were using ADAS, so it relies on hard-to-verify personal accounts. Everyone else leaves it up to the police report.”

ADS

For ADS, nearly all the data comes from California. 130 crashes were reported from July 2021 to 15 May 2022. One resulted in serious injury. Waymo reported the most incidents, followed by Transdev Alternative Solutions and then Cruise.

Reaction

Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Administrator, said: “The data released today are part of our commitment to transparency, accountability and public safety.

“New vehicle technologies have the potential to help prevent crashes, reduce crash severity and save lives, and the Department is interested in fostering technologies that are proven to do so; collecting this data is an important step in that effort.

“As we gather more data, NHTSA will be able to better identify any emerging risks or trends and learn more about how these technologies are performing in the real world.”

Autonomous vehicle safety consultant Philip Koopman welcomed the new data, commenting: “This is an excellent first step for transparency. All of us safety advocates can wish for more data and for less redaction, but this is a crucial step forward.

“If I had one wish, it would be to divide the narrative data field into two sections: public narrative and confidential narrative, and put huge pressure on the reporting companies to minimize things put into the confidential narrative.”

On this side of the pond, The Law Commission has recommended that automated vehicles must be able to record and store data necessary for incident investigation.

Why insurance is fundamental to the advancement of Oxbotica’s trials and self-driving in general

Oxbotica self-driving 1st illustrates insurance industry’s increasing focus on A-EVs 

Further details have emerged of the insurance industry’s contribution to Oxbotica’s recent self-driving first – running a zero-occupancy automated electric vehicle (A-EV) on public roads in Europe.

As noted in our original story, the insurance was arranged by broker Marsh and created by Apollo Group’s Insuring Businesses Of Tomorrow, Today (ibott) initiative, in partnership with Aioi Nissay Dowa Europe.

Insuring Businesses Of Tomorrow, Today (ibott) re self-driving
Insuring Businesses Of Tomorrow, Today (ibott) re self-driving

Additional comments provided via Haggie Partners on 26 May included the following by Rebecca Marsden and Sam Tiltman.

Enabling self-driving

Rebecca Marsden, underwriter at Apollo ibott, said: “The world is on the cusp of a once in a lifetime world-changing technology revolution, and Apollo through its ibott business, in partnership in the UK with Aioi Nissay Dowa Europe as insurer, is thrilled to have taken the first step with Oxbotica in ensuring universal autonomy reaches its full potential, enabled by innovative, comprehensive and flexible insurance solutions.”

Sam Tiltman, sharing economy and mobility leader for the UK & Ireland at Marsh, added: “Insurance is fundamental to the advancement of Oxbotica’s trials; this latest exciting development signals growing market confidence in how AVs will revolutionise UK transport infrastructure.” 

Oxbotica’s self-driving first – a zero-occupancy automated electric vehicle on public roads

Focus on self-driving

Other recent examples of the insurance industry’s increasing focus on self-driving include: our 17 May interview with Doug Jenkins, Motor Technical Risk Manager at AXA Insurance UK; the 27 May Insurance Post piece by Pamela Kokoszka, “Awareness campaign needed for drivers before accelerating introduction of AVs”; and the 1 June piece in The Actuary, The magazine of The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA), by Ben Hoster, director of transformative technologies at Marsh McClennan, “Changing gears: autonomous vehicles and motor insurance”.

In the latter, Hoster opined: “Electric autonomous vehicles (E-AVs) can help manufacturers to generate short-term revenues by providing semi-autonomous features such as advanced driver assistance systems, aspects of which include lane keeping assistance.

“Data collected from these systems – sensor inputs, camera feeds and electronic control unit decisions – will help to improve deep learning algorithms, facilitating a safe and scalable migration to full urban autonomy.

“The data collected from E-AVs will also increase the accuracy of risk assessments, making it more viable to insure them.”

He goes on to predict that multiple forms of coverage (including product, motor and cyber liability) will begin to overlap, that the determination of liability for bodily injury and property damage (BIPD) will become more difficult, and that E-AVs will influence vehicle ownership.

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted more rival self-driving terminology here, with Marsh McClennan preferring electric autonomous vehicles (E-AVs) and the likes of PWC putting the A first, with autonomous electric vehicles (A-EVs).

Hoster concluded: “The insurance industry’s rigorous risk assessment methods and strict safety standards will build public confidence, improve profitability and pave the way for a future in which mobility is driverless and electrified.”

Thatcham, AXA and Mercedes-Benz Cars UK respond to Drive Pilot conditionally automated driving liability announcement

Conditionally automated: Thatcham and AXA respond to Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot liability announcement

Mercedes-Benz made global headlines in late March by taking the unusual step of announcing that it will accept legal responsibility for accidents caused by its Drive Pilot automated lane keeping system (ALKS).

The move followed the announcement, last December, that it had become the first vehicle manufacturer (VM) to meet the international UN-R157 standard for a Level 3 system, capable of “conditionally automated driving”.

Conditionally automated driving

Mercedes-Benz Cars UK was quick to emphasise that this currently only applies to Germany. “The system must safely perform the dynamic driving task when activated,” it said.

“However, the driver still has duties in public road traffic even during conditionally automated driving. It is true that they are allowed to temporarily turn away from traffic in Germany; however, they must, for example, resume the driving task at any time when requested to do so by the system.”

That sounds innocuous but it’s a major step on the road to self-driving. In cars equipped with this tech – reportedly to be available first on the new £83,000 S-Class – in Germany, where 13,000km of motorway are approved for Level 3, the car can do the driving. Just take that in.

In the UK, Thatcham is leading the development of a consumer safety rating to support the safe adoption of Automated Driving Systems (ADS).

Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham on automated driving
Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham

Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham, commented: “We’re pleased that Mercedes have made that statement, but it has to be seen in context. Firstly, the announcement was made for the German legal system, so you have to look at the legal onus on the driver to maintain control and be responsible.

“From a UK perspective, the recent Highway Code changes clarify that a bit more. It’s fairly clear within the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act (AEV Act) that the VM will ultimately be liable if their system is seen as being at fault.

“It comes back to understanding who was driving at the time of collision, and we’re not so happy that the data part is still slightly ambiguous. VMs are required to record who was driving at the time of the collision. However, it’s not clear that the data will be available in every collision, or how that data will be accessible to the insurer.

“What the Mercedes statement does do, which is helpful, is it gives confidence to the consumer that if something goes wrong, somebody will be there to pick up the bill.”

Doug Jenkins, Motor Technical Risk Manager at AXA Insurance UK, on automated driving
Doug Jenkins, Motor Technical Risk Manager at AXA Insurance UK

Doug Jenkins, Motor Technical Risk Manager at AXA Insurance UK, agrees. “On paper, the liability is clear,” he said. “But I think there is some work still to do – together – on how it would play out in practice.

“Let’s think about what happens in a claim: You’re lucky enough to be given one of these cars as a fleet vehicle and unfortunately you get sideswiped. There might well be a sticker on the windscreen with the number of an accident management company or fleet manager.

“The person who takes the first notification call will run through a script. They’ll ask what happened and you might say “They clipped me and took off the wing mirror”, you’re unlikely to say, “It was an issue with their lane assist system”.

“If it’s a sub-£5,000 claim, an accident management company might well just authorise the repair and arrange it via one of their approved repair centres. Job done. This Mercedes announcement means interfering with that very efficient process.

“We will need to develop the process of sign-off and how the costs are charged back – of course, these things will come as we get deeper into the deployment of automated vehicles.

“We’ve recently clarified our cover for electric vehicles (EVs), looking at things like cables trailing and chargers blowing up. These are new eventualities, but it’s just a case of changing the wording to respond to new customer needs.”

Please note: a version of this article was first published by the Institute of the Motor Industry’s MotorPro magazine.

AXA Insurance UK’s Doug Jenkins talks ADAS, self-driving, MAAS and more…

AXA’s Jenkins on ADAS and self-driving: a fascinating time for motor insurance

One of the most engaging panellists at the recent Zenzic CAM Innovators event, Doug Jenkins, Motor Technical Risk Manager at AXA Insurance UK, gives an insurer’s perspective on ADAS and self-driving.

What are your views on Mercedes accepting responsibility for accidents caused by its automated lane keeping system? 

DJ: “This is a really interesting announcement and is in line with the recommendations from the Law Commission. On paper, the liability is clear, but I think there is some work still do – together – before we can work out how it would play out in practice.

“There’s also a massive difference between retail insurance and fleet insurance. For an individual policyholder, one of these ALKS-equipped cars would probably be on a comprehensive policy with a small excess, whereas in the fleet market a lot of people almost self-insure, with huge excesses on third party only cover. I’m guessing Mercedes focused on the retail business, but it will be interesting to see the implications for fleets.

“Let’s think about what happens in a claim: You’re lucky enough to be given one of these cars as a fleet vehicle and unfortunately you get sideswiped. There might well be a sticker on the windscreen with the number of an accident management company or a fleet manager.

What happens next is important. The person who takes the first notification call will run through a script and ask certain questions. They’ll ask what happened and you might say “They clipped me and took off the wing mirror”, you’re unlikely to say, “It was an issue with their lane assist system”.

“If it’s a sub-£5,000 claim, an accident management company might well just authorise the repair and arrange it via one of their approved repair centres. Job done. This Mercedes announcement means interfering with that very efficient process. Even if an insurer starts looking at the cause of the accident, the report might say “The vehicle just came to a stop – it was a malfunction”. The driver was still supposed to remain in control so how do you attribute blame to the lane assist?

“As an insurer providing basic Road Traffic Act (RTA) cover, we would have to pay any losses and then go to Mercedes and say we’d like our money back. We will need to develop the process of sign-off and how the costs are charged back – of course, these things will come as we get deeper into the deployment of AVs.”

What are the implications of attaching liability to the vehicle rather than the driver?

DJ: “I wish I had a pound for every time this came up in conversation! Let’s say the law changes and self-driving is allowed. What cover would be needed? Does it look like a motor policy? At AXA we’ve got working groups looking at that. It’s all in the wording but very few people read the 50-page agreements – they just want to be covered so we want to make the end product as comprehensive as possible.

“The definition of insurance is transferring risk. Somebody pays for loss or damage caused by something going wrong. That’s the bottom line. We currently insure several organisations trialling autonomous vehicles in the UK, so we understand the exposure. They’re close to the point where they want to take the safety drivers out, and we’re very involved in that discussion.

“The rate of progress is increasing. I bought a Q4 recently and Audi’s technical centre couldn’t answer one of my queries because “it is too new”. We’ve recently clarified our cover for electric vehicles (EVs), looking at things like cables trailing and chargers blowing up. These are new eventualities, but it’s just a case of changing the wording to respond to these new customer needs.

“When it comes to full autonomy, I know it sounds complicated but, in all honesty, I don’t think it will be. Rest assured, by working with The Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Thatcham, the insurance industry will take new factors into account and provide the right cover.”

Is it sensible for ALKS to be the first system defined in UK law as “automated”?

DJ: “As Thatcham have made clear, we’re not particularly encouraged by this being the first stage. The main reason being: ALKS doesn’t pull over safely if something goes wrong. If it could proceed to a safe location – for example, a hard shoulder – then fine, but we’re a long way away from that.

“The government have set out the position – they want the UK to lead in this – but I am concerned that it could become confusing for the public when really autonomous vehicles come to the market as this technology really does just keep you in your lane.

“Admittedly, it’s a complicated area because of the historic legislation, but there’s a reason all insurers pay into Thatcham – they do a lot of great research – and I think their advice should be listened to.”

Very broadly, what are your views on the biggest claims made about self-driving vehicles?

DG: “The implications for car ownership are interesting, particularly for the younger generation. In my day, passing your test and getting your first car was all about mobility. Young people still want to get from A to B, but they want choices – they’re not so worried about ownership.

“The Highlands Transport Partnership is a good example of mobility as a service (MAAS) – providing access to buses, trains, cars and bikes through a single app. There are more flexible ways to have a car too, for example, to change model every month if you want.

“People talk about a world of zero collisions and, having dealt with serious accidents, it’s a great goal. We know that around 90% of accidents are due to human error. People do silly things and when you have pedestrians, cyclists and old internal combustion engine vehicles sharing a space there is risk. We’ll certainly be much closer to zero collisions once all cars are connected and automated.

“In the meantime, I expect the type of claim to change. Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) will mean less vehicles running into back of third parties, which are usually the most expensive. Assisted driving means there should be less slow speed collisions, and there are currently lots of those.

“It wasn’t so long ago that people started building motorised vehicles and it took around 30 years for that legislation to come in. I think what’s happening now with self-driving is very similar to that.”

Anything else you’d like to mention re self-driving?

DJ: “It’s an absolutely fascinating time to be involved in motor insurance. At the moment the UK is behind the US in terms of getting these vehicles on the road. In San Francisco the police pulled over a driverless car and it just drove off.

“Our role is to move with the times and provide end-to-end cover, to help you get from A to B, even via C and D, safely and on time. I know there are ongoing discussions between the ABI and The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) about what data we can receive from connected cars, and about standardising the format.  

“In the here and now, AXA has just launched the STeP app, a digital claims solution on the retail side. We’ve developed it in-house and the thought that’s gone into it is amazing. It will dramatically reduce the time from notification to repair and customer feedback has been very positive.”

NEVS Sango EVs to be fitted with Oxbotica self-driving tech.

Gimme, gimme, gimme a robotaxi after midnight! Oxbotica and NEVS unite for self-driving, all-electric on-demand mobility

Just in time for Eurovision, one of the UK’s leading self-driving companies, Oxbotica, has a signed a long-term strategic partnership with Swedish disruptive mobility organisation, NEVS.

Stefan Tilk of NEVS and Gavin Jackson of Oxbotica agree new self-driving EV deal
Stefan Tilk of NEVS and Gavin Jackson of Oxbotica agree new self-driving EV deal

The agreement will see Oxbotica integrating its Driver autonomy system into NEVS’ eye-catching Sango electric vehicle (EV). The result: a fleet of self-driving, all-electric vehicles providing on-demand mobility services on geo-fenced public roads by the end of 2023.

“Gimme, gimme, gimme a robotaxi after midnight” as Swedish super troup and multi-Eurovison winners, ABBA, nearly said.

If successful, “multiple projects in Europe” will follow in 2024 and, from 2025 onwards, the solution will be “scaled across the globe”.

Self-driving collaborations

Oxbotica is building a reputation for major collaborations and Cars of the Future was on the money (money money) with news of its all-weather radar localisation solution for automated vehicles (AVs) with Navtech Radar, and its AV trial at BP’s Lingen refinery in Germany.

You can read more about the Oxford University spin-out’s vision in this 2021 interview with Co-founder and CTO, Professor Paul Newman.

Its new partner, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), was established in 2012, with roots from the 1940s, and is based in Trollhättan in Sweden’s famous automotive cluster.

Official comments

Commenting on the NEVS partnership, Gavin Jackson, new CEO at Oxbotica, said: “The combination of Oxbotica Driver and this stunning, next-generation, electric vehicle is a perfect match.

“It allows us to create an urban mobility service that will make roads safer, cleaner, and less congested, and provide customers with a new way to travel. The partnership will truly change how the earth moves and I can’t wait to see the first vehicles out on the road next year.”

Stefan Tilk, President at NEVS, said: “Having a partnership with Oxbotica and being able to progress substantially with its autonomous stack as the “driver”, will indeed make the ecosystem of our mobility solution complete.

“Through this partnership we will be able to deploy pilots and commercial fleets – ensuring a breakthrough in the movement of people in a green, safe and smart way, paving the way for sustainable cities.”

As detailed in Queen’s Speech 2022 lobby pack, the self-driving sector is predicted to be worth £41.7bn to the UK economy by 2035. The winner takes it all, apparently.

Somewhat surprisingly, as it had been trailed, there was no mention of self-driving in the 2022 Queen’s Speech

Queen’s Speech 2022: a notable absence and no mention of self-driving

The 2022 Queen’s Speech – delivered by Prince Charles following Monday’s announcement that the monarch would not attend – set out the UK government’s legislative programme but, somewhat disappointingly, there was no mention of self-driving.

This despite the letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from 17 major UK businesses calling for primary legislation for automated vehicles (AVs) to be included…

… and the Queen’s Speech 2022: Transport In Focus article, published on the House of Lords Library webpage on 5 May, which said: “The speech is expected to include several measures concerning transport… establishing a new rail body; regulating the sale of e-scooters; and providing for driverless cars.”

House of Lords Library re self-driving in Queen’s Speech 2022
House of Lords Library re self-driving in Queen’s Speech 2022

No self-driving?

Come the big day, there was only this broad commitment: “My Government will improve transport across the United Kingdom, delivering safer, cleaner services and enabling more innovations.

Indeed, the only transport sector to get a special mention was rail: “Legislation will be introduced to modernise rail services and improve reliability for passengers.”

It was left to others to fill in the gaps.

AA president, Edmund King, said: “The world of transport is changing rapidly with new innovations and technologies for consumers to choose from. Regardless of how people travel, we must keep the consumer at the heart of it.

“For car owners, the drive towards electrification needs more support and we are pleased to see more emphasis on boosting the public charging network. As well as installing more chargepoints, we need to ensure they are reliable, easy to use, safe and accessible to all.

“Similarly, drivers will need to be part of the conversation when it comes to introducing more autonomous technology in cars. Drivers are not quite ready to take their hands off the wheel and are nervous about handing over responsibility to the car but are supportive of technology such as autonomous emergency braking which enhances safety.

“With e-scooters and other forms of micro-mobility popping up more frequently on UK roads, it makes sense that safety regulation should come first. If introduced alongside appropriate infrastructure, e-mobility could help provide a positive shift in greener localised travel both for individuals and last-mile freight.” 

Cllr David Renard, Transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: “Councils are determined to tackle climate change and are already supporting the transition to electric vehicles. It is good that the Queen’s Speech outlines ambitions to speed up this transition but councils need clarity about their role in delivering this change.”

Other parts of the speech which may be relevant to self-driving included “An Energy Bill to deliver the transition to cheaper, cleaner, and more secure energy” and the announcement that “The United Kingdom’s data protection regime will be reformed”.

Ah well, remember the glory days when, at the state opening of parliament, the Queen said: “My ministers will ensure the UK is at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles.” That was back in 2016.

[Edit at 11.30am on Wed 11 May ]

Our thanks to Felix Boon, Solicitor and Senior Claim Adjuster at Zurich Insurance, for pointing out that, deep in the Queen’s Speech 2022 lobby pack (on page 31 of 140), there are couple of brief references to self-driving: 

“Legislation for self-driving vehicles will enable an emerging UK sector in this new technology, predicted by the Connected Places Catapult in 2020 to be worth £41.7 billion to the UK economy by 2035 and expected to create 38,000 new skilled jobs.”

And

“Introducing new laws that safely enable self-driving and remotely operated vehicles and vessels, support the roll-out of electric vehicle charge points and enabling the licensing of London pedicabs.”

Apparently not worthy of inclusion in the actual Speech!

VW and Volvo CEOs talk connected and automated mobility (CAM) at the FT’s Future of the Car Summit 2022.

Next gen mobility will be transformational like smartphones predicts new Volvo CEO Rowan

Connected and automated mobility (CAM) featured prominently on the first morning of the four-day Future of the Car Summit 2022, hosted by Financial Times Live.

The online-only first day (Monday 9 May), ahead of in-person and digital events tomorrow and Wednesday, included big name vehicle manufacturer speakers – Volkswagen Group CEO, Herbert Diess, and Volvo Cars CEO, Jim Rowan.

Future mobility

Diess targeted an 10-12% market share in the US and reiterated that he sees VW as a tech company not a car company.

VW's Herbert Diess at the launch of the first BP Flexpole EV fast charger
VW’s Herbert Diess at the launch of the first BP Flexpole EV fast charger

On connectivity, he described modern cars as “most advanced devices on the internet”, saying: “Up until now, you do the hardware, electronics, software, you do the launch and then you don’t touch it anymore.

“Now, you continuously work on the systems in the car to deliver more functionality. In autonomous driving, the car becomes a learning device. You have to upgrade the software over time, you have to take all this responsibility.”

He also predicted it could take years for self-driving cars to master extreme weather.

Like feature phones to smartphones

Next up was new Volvo Cars CEO, Jim Rowan. Formerly of Dyson and BlackBerry, he likened the current state of play in the automotive industry to that of the telecoms industry as it moved from feature phones to smartphones.

Volvo Cars CEO, Jim Rowan, 2022
Volvo Cars CEO, Jim Rowan, 2022

“The smartphone enriched that product to a level that no one had really envisaged, and how much more that became a part of everyday life was transformational,” he said.

“The same thing is going to happen in the auto industry, or in the next generation mobility industry as I prefer to call it. What we’ll be able to do with next gen mobility is going to be tremendously different from what we currently do with cars.

“I think you’ll see great technology being used across every car going forward. We’re actually seeing that right now, and that’s only going to accelerate.

“Remember, the next generation that we need to bring into the car market is Gen Z, digital natives born into a digital world. They expect connectivity, they expect services to be available seamlessly between their car, home and phone. It’s not a wow factor to them.”

Connected and automated mobility

There followed a panel discussion on “Revolutionising the in-vehicle experience and turning it into a recurring revenue stream”, with TJ Fox, Senior Vice President of Industrial IoT and Automotive at Verizon Business, Gianmarco Brunetti, Head of Commercial Transformation at Jaguar Land Rover, and recent Cars of the Future interviewee, Inma Martinez, from the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI).

Fox focused on the infrastructure – network quality and reliability across all use cases, especially for “mission critical” applications.

“Vehicles will be constantly updated to continually get better than they were the day they came off the production line, and 5G will be underpinning that moving forward,” he said.

While Brunetti focused on the customer experiences. “I expect that in the future we will be mainly focusing on two things,” he said.

“First, how we can be of more service to the customer, how we can make their day-to-day experience better; and second, how can we leverage technology to make our operations better and more efficient.”

Martinez set out GPAI’s aim, as a partnership of 25 OECD nations, to ensure that artificial intelligence becomes “a tool for good, and progress and welfare”.

Inma Martinez of the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI)
Inma Martinez of the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI)

“At the moment, data is basically just for safety,” she said. “In the very near future, it will be used to make cars really smart – evolving, self-learning AI – gathering data from the exterior to create situational awareness.

“Safety was always the biggest goal that governments imposed on the sector, now it is CO2 emissions, but traditionally it was safety. The auto industry is very close to the space and the aerospace industries – the aim is zero errors, pure perfection.”

It was a great start to the event, and we look forward to the headline act tomorrow evening, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed for a live hour-long interview.