Indy Autonomous Challenge winner PoliMOVE sets new self-driving world speed record at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Video: 192mph PoliMOVE car rockets to self-driving world speed record

On 27 April 2022, the PoliMOVE car, developed by The Politecnico university in Milan, set a new world speed record for a self-driving vehicle, an impressive 192.2mph (309.3kph).

Self-driving record on Space Shuttle airstrip

The feat was achieved on the famous Space Shuttle landing runway at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

 Fastest self-driving car April 2022 – PoliMOVE – via Indy Autonomous Challenge

As is customary for such attempts, the new mark was the average speed achieved across two consecutive 1km runs in opposite directions, to mitigate the effects of any tailwind.

The previous day, PoliMOVE had beaten the previous record of 175.49mph (282.42kph), held by Roborace, but the team were confident they could go faster.

Especially pleasing for metric fans, the new record time meant breaking the 300kph barrier for the first time.

Indy Autonomous Challenge winner

The Politecnico team were invited to use the iconic Space Shuttle straight following their hard-won victory at the Indy Autonomous Challenge in January.

The PoliMOVE self-driving racecar won the Indy Autonomous Challenge in January 2022
The PoliMOVE self-driving racecar won the Indy Autonomous Challenge in January 2022

There, PoliMOVE reached 172.9mph (278.4kph) at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, beating teams from six other universities to claim the $150k top prize.

To ensure an even playing field, all Indy Autonomous Challenge teams used the same model racecar – a Dallara AV-21 – with each adding their own software.

TUM Autonomous Motorsport from the Technische Universität in Munich, Germany, took second place, winning $50k.

PoliMOVE and TUM self-driving cars battling at the Indy Autonomous Challenge in January 2022
PoliMOVE and TUM self-driving cars battling at the Indy Autonomous Challenge in January 2022

Official comment

Professor Sergio Savaresi, team leader for Politecnico di Milano, commented: “We saw what the future holds for autonomous vehicles and credit goes to the entire PoliMOVE team, especially Dr Brandon Dixon.

“We were running a car operating on algorithms alone, where precision is paramount, and any small prediction error could have created a completely different outcome.

“This test run was exhilarating, and we are thrilled with the world record, but we’re also excited by the fact that this data will be made available to all, and the industry will benefit from our work.”

Politecnico di Milano specialises in engineering and industrial design, with many courses taught in English.

The Politecnico research group, led by Prof. Savaresi, has been studying automatic controls on everything from electric bicycles to tractors for over 20 years.

PoliMOVE self-driving car at Atlanta Atlanta Motor Speedway, May 2022
PoliMOVE self-driving car at Atlanta Motor Speedway, May 2022

This week, the PoliMOVE team moved on to the Atlanta Motor Speedway for further high-speed testing…  this time involving turning! We await the results with interest.

The Institute of the Motor Industry already has a skills solution for ADAS and is looking ahead to full self-driving.

IMI on the right road to next level self-driving skills

In a recent MotorPro podcast, AA President Edmund King predicted that connected and self-driving vehicles will lead to “radical changes” in the UK automotive industry. He’s quite right of course and, as you’d expect, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) is ahead of the game.

Steve Scofield FIMI, Head of Business Development at the IMI, commented: “We’re already on the road to full autonomy, starting with the lower levels of automation. For instance, our e-learning skills solution and campaigns around Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

Steve Scofield talks self-driving
Steve Scofield, Head of Business Development at the IMI, talks self-driving

“That’s currently the biggest issue for the real-world car parc, whether for accident repair or maintenance and repair. Very soon we’ll be launching new ADAS qualifications, and that’s just the start of our journey.

Self-driving skills

“From a skills perspective, the IMI is downstream of the research and testing being conducted by groups like the Department for Transport’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV). But we’re continually horizon-scanning and engaging with key stakeholders – that’s all part of being future-proof.

“We have strong partnerships with organisations like Thatcham and BSI to make sure we can see what’s coming, to build-in industry requirements, to drive continuing professional development (CPD), and to ensure there’s recognition of accredited training.”

A good example is IMI TechSafe, which identifies a member’s professionalism and safe working in the field of electric vehicles (EVs) and other safety-critical systems, including autonomous and driver assistance systems.

Self-driving standards

The repair of ADAS-equipped vehicles is covered by British Standard BS10125, formerly known as PAS 125, and most insurance companies will only give work to businesses that meet the standard.

As an indicator of how the UK will embrace the higher levels of automation – vehicles that can get from A to B with minimal human interaction – it is interesting to note the work of BSI’s connected and automated vehicles (CAV) standards programme, sponsored by the CCAV in conjunction with Innovate UK and Zenzic.

PAS stands for Publicly Available Specification, and BSI is working on three new ones: PAS 1880 on guidelines for developing and assessing control systems for automated vehicles; PAS 1881 on assuring safety for autonomous vehicle trials and testing; and PAS 1882 on data collection and management for automated vehicle trials for the purpose of incident investigation. According to BSI, around 30% of PASs go on to form the basis of international standards.

Steve Scofield continued: Our IMI industry Sector Advisory Group, which includes around 75 organisations, will be looking closely at autonomous. It’s really important for us to sow the seeds early, to embed qualifications around autonomous into our training centres so our membership is ready for the changing environment.

“Bear in mind that the Law Commission is only just putting together the regulatory framework for self-driving in the UK. We’re not far down the road with autonomous yet, we’re mainly talking level one and two driver assistance, but you can see the world is shifting towards ACES – Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared.

Self-driving talent

“It’s exciting for talent acquisition because it should help us to attract the next generation. Young people are very interested in low carbon and the green agenda. They also like the idea of working in a dynamic, rapidly evolving sector.

“Just this week, [IMI chief executive] Steve Nash and I were at a John Deere training academy seeing how they use GPS to position their vehicles within a centimetre or two. For road vehicles there’s the whole connectivity side, how these vehicles will talk to the infrastructure, the vehicle manufacturer, the vehicle owner and other vehicles.

“I don’t have all of the answers at this stage, I can just see bits of it as we’re researching. What’s very clear is that the motor industry will need a lot more talent in software, as well as the usual vehicle systems.”

In terms of bottom line benefits, IMI analysis of salary data for 2020 showed an earning premium of more than 10% for EV qualified technicians. That’s about £3,700 per annum extra in your pay packet for specialising in cutting-edge tech.

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

Industry letter to UK Prime Minister calls for primary legislation to seize global self-driving opportunity.

Businesses urge PM to add self-driving legislation to Queen’s Speech on 10 May

The top brass from 17 major UK businesses have jointly written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for the Government to announce primary legislation for automated vehicles (AVs) in the Queen’s Speech on 10 May.

The broad coalition consists of representatives from the self-driving sector – AECOM, Aurrigo, Conigital, Wayve and Westfield Technology Group – the insurance sector – Admiral, the Association of British Insurers (ABI), AXA, Thatcham Research and Zego – the tech sector – Coadec, techUK and Virgin – the finance sector – firstminute capital and Eclipse Ventures – and supermarket groups ASDA and Ocado.

Legal framework for self-driving

Together, they call for a comprehensive legal framework for the safe and sustainable deployment of AVs, citing economic and societal benefits including improved road safety and reduced emissions.

Sky News concluded that: “The letter contained a veiled warning to ministers, including the business secretary, that time was running out to keep pace with rival regulatory frameworks.”

Notably, in Germany, 13,000km of motorway are already approved for Level 3 automated driving.

In the UK, the recent Highway Code announcement to move Britain “closer to a self-driving revolution” referred to a 2025 target for having a full regulatory framework in place.

The letter quotes statistics from the Connected Places Catapult – the government’s innovation agency for the transport industry – including “an export potential worth £10.9bn by 2035.”

Connected Places Catapult self-driving market forecast
Connected Places Catapult self-driving market forecast

Dougie Barnett, Director of Customer Risk Management at AXA UK, commented: “As one of the largest motor insurers, AXA is keen to support, promote and enable the take-up of automated technology on UK roads.

“AVs would provide significant societal benefits, including safer, cleaner and more accessible roads and, via the development of the technology, would support SMEs scaling up and subsequently levelling-up throughout the UK.

“However, the development of self-driving technology needs to be underpinned by a robust legal and regulatory framework, which prioritises the safety of all road users.

“With this letter, we are urging the Government to announce primary legislation for AVs, ensuring safety remains at the heart of their development and deployment as well as advancing the benefits they bring to society.” 

Self-driving legislation letter

The letter, dated 21 April 2022 and titled “Primary Legislation for Automated Vehicles”, was addressed to PM Boris Johnson and cc’d to Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, Trudy Harrison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (DfT) and Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The full text reads…

Dear Prime Minister,

We write from across industry to highlight the benefits of automated vehicles (AVs) to the UK and call on the Government to announce primary legislation for Automated Vehicles in the upcoming Queen’s Speech. We welcome the extensive work of the Law Commissions of England and Wales, and Scotland, who have collaborated with industry to propose a comprehensive legal framework for the safe and sustainable deployment of AVs.

The UK has a unique opportunity to be a global leader in the development and deployment of AVs, or self-driving vehicles. This technology is the most exciting innovation for transport in decades and has the potential to level-up every corner of the UK, improve the country’s productivity, create jobs, reduce emissions, improve road safety, and bolster opportunities everywhere.

The industry has the potential to unleash economic growth across the whole of the UK. The global market for AVs is predicted to be worth £650bn by 2035, of which the UK is estimated to gain £41.7bn, creating 49,000 highly skilled green jobs in 2035, and a further 23,000 jobs from AV technologies. There is also an export potential worth £10.9bn by 2035 [according to the Connected Places Catapult Market Forecast For Connected and Autonomous Vehicles].

Beyond the significant economic opportunity, this transition is essential to meet the Government’s Net Zero target. Self-driving electric vehicles could greatly reduce congestion, pollution and fuel consumption. In addition, they offer huge opportunities for an increase in safety and reduction in road deaths. Research shows that a shift to AVs could bring a 93% reduction in accidents by 2040. And since road accidents are the leading cause of death among those aged 15-29, many thousands of lives are likely to be saved.

We urge the Government to consider the benefit this can bring to people’s everyday lives across the country too. Automated mobility has the potential to better connect rural communities and provide people with better access to opportunities. For example, a visually impaired person who can’t drive or navigate public transport easily will be able to stay connected to their friends and family via a self-driving mobility service. AVs also mean goods, like our everyday groceries, can be moved around the country more efficiently and safely, supporting the green transition of the last-mile delivery market which is predicted to be worth £44bn by 2025.

It is crucial that we unlock this technology and create a safe regulatory framework for people across the UK. This is a critical year in the development of this technology, as we see more examples of AVs moving closer to deployment. The Government needs to introduce legislation this year, to ensure the UK remains a world leader in AVs, and continues attracting investment to the UK. We are aware that other countries are looking to legislate this year and we strongly recommend that the UK maintains its global stance in this industry.

We would be pleased to discuss any of the above and look forward to continued engagement with the Government as the regulatory framework for the safe use of self-driving technology evolves.

Yours Sincerely,

Claudio Gienal, CEO, AXA UK&I
Alex Kendall, Co-founder and CEO, Wayve
Josh Bayliss, CEO, Virgin Group
Prof. David Keene, CEO, Aurrigo
Cristina Nestares, UK CEO, Admiral
Matthew Avery, CEO, Thatcham Research
Julian Turner, CEO, Westfield Technology Group
Don Dhaliwal, CEO, Conigital Limited
Dom Hallas, Executive Director, Coadec
Tim Steiner OBE, CEO, Ocado Group
Brent Hoberman, Co-founder & Executive Chairman, firstminute capital
Sten Saar, CEO, Zego
Seth Winterroth, Partner, Eclipse Ventures
Andy Barker, COO, AECOM
Julian David, CEO, techUK
James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy, ABI
Simon Gregg, Senior Vice President – E-Commerce, ASDA

Looking ahead to conditionally automated driving, owners need to understand their car’s capabilities and their responsibilities

Even before Level 3 automated driving, car manuals are epic – longer than War and Peace

As cars get ever more connected and assisted driving features on the road to conditionally automated driving (see the updated SAE Levels), drivers are ever harder pushed to find all the right buttons.

Peter Stoker, Chief Engineer at Millbrook test track, made the point in our interview last year, saying: “If you buy a new car, you should read the manual, but how many people do? Especially with Covid, more cars are being delivered with minimal interaction – it’s a case of “there’s the key, where’s the station?”

Automated driving capabilities

Just last week, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, had this to say about changes to The Highway Code related to self-driving: “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.”

Quite so. Unfortunately, no matter how thorough the handover, settings get forgotten and drivers find themselves reaching for the good old owner’s handbook. Which makes this eye-catching research by Scrap Car Comparison all the more worrying.

The salvage specialist analysed the owner’s manuals for 100 of the UK’s most popular vehicles. It found that Audi has by far the heftiest, with the R8 being longest at 616,064 words, followed by the e-tron at 603,649 words, both, incredibly, three times longer than the Ford F-Series in third at 194,305 words.

Audi R8 has the longest manual according to Scrap Car Comparison
Audi R8 has the longest manual according to Scrap Car Comparison

To put that into perspective, at an average English silent reading speed of 238 words per minute, both the R8 and e-tron manuals take over 40 hours to complete, comparable to Tolstoy’s titanic tome, War and Peace.

At a mere 76,944 words, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is well under half the size of the 163,225-word Ford Focus manual.

Top 10 longest vehicle manuals

Rank  Vehicle Make & Model  Manual Word Count  Average Time To Read  
1  Audi R8  616,064  43 hours 9 minutes  
2  Audi e-tron  603,649  42 hours 16 minutes  
3  Ford F-Series  194,305  13 hours 36 minutes  
4  Ram Pickup 1500  177,196  12 hours 24 minutes  
5  Audi A3  174,181  12 hours 11 minutes  
6  Volvo XC40  171,457  12 hours  
7  Volkswagen ID.4  168,060  11 hours 46 minutes  
8  Jeep Gladiator  163,857  11 hours 28 minutes  
9  Ford Focus  163,225  11 hours 25 minutes  
10  GMC Sierra  158,194  11 hours 4 minutes  

The shortest manuals list is dominated by two-wheelers, with the Vmoto Super Soco CPX electric scooter taking top spot, with only 2,834 words. Only three cars made the shortest manuals top 10 – the Range Rover Evoque, Nissan Leaf and VW Polo.

Range Rover Evoque has shortest car manual according to Scrap Car Comparison
Range Rover Evoque has shortest car manual according to Scrap Car Comparison

Top 10 shortest vehicle manuals

Rank  Vehicle Make & Model  Manual Word Count  Average Time To Read  
1  Vmoto Super Soco CPX2,834 11 minutes 
2  Honda NSC 110 Vision12,146 51 minutes 
3  Honda CB125F15,029 1 hour 3 minutes 
4  Range Rover Evoque16,526 1 hour 9 minutes 
5  Honda PCX12521,083 1 hour 28 minutes 
6  Nissan Leaf21,541 1 hour 30 minutes 
7  Yamaha NMAX 12522,152 1 hour 33 minutes 
8  Honda SHi 12523,438 1 hour 38 minutes 
9  Yamaha Ténéré 70028,685 2 hours 
10  VW Polo31,897 2 hours 14 minutes 

In addition to reading length, the study also used the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Score to rank the accessibility of each manual.

It found the McLaren 765LT supercar manual to be the most difficult to digest, with a Flesch-Kincaid score of 44.3, requiring the equivalent of a college-level education to understand it.

McLaren 765LT manual the most difficult to digest according to Scrap Car Comparison
McLaren 765LT manual the most difficult to digest according to Scrap Car Comparison

The Vauxhall Crossland X and BMW 2 Series completed the top three for impenetrability, all with an 18+age suitability rating.

Top 10 hardest to read vehicle manuals

Rank Vehicle Make & Model Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Score Age Suitability (years) 
McLaren 765LT 44.3 18+ 
Vauxhall Crossland X 44.5 18+ 
BMW 2 Series 45.06 18+ 
Ferrari 812 Superfast 45.35 18+ 
Vauxhall Grandland X 45.64 18+ 
Range Rover Evoque 45.65 18+ 
Ford Ranger 45.83 18+ 
Honda Jazz 46.38 18+ 
Nissan Frontier 46.88 18+ 
10 Mercedes GLC 47.89 18+ 

At the more accessible end of the spectrum, Tesla’s Model Y was found to be the easiest manual to understand, scoring 76.92 on the Flesch-Kincaid scale, suitable for those aged 12-13 and above.

Tesla Model Y manual the easiest to digest according to Scrap Car Comparison
Tesla Model Y manual the easiest to digest according to Scrap Car Comparison

Toyota also did well, taking second and third spots with its Tacoma and Tundra manuals.

Top 10 easiest to read vehicle manuals

Rank Vehicle Make & Model Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Score Age Suitability (years) 
Tesla Model Y 76.92 12-13 years 
Toyota Tacoma 76.53 12-13 years 
Toyota Tundra 76.42 12-13 years 
Chevrolet Bolt EV 74.48 12-13 years 
Fiat 500 73.97 12-13 years 
Honda NSC 100 Vision 73.42 12-13 years 
Porsche 911 Turbo S 72.55 12-13 years 
Ford Mustang Mach-E 72.07 12-13 years 
Kia Sportage 69.86 13-15 years 
10 Audi Q2 69.82 13-15 years 

Dan Gick, Managing Director at Scrap Car Comparison, commented: “Vehicle owner manuals are a great resource which can teach you not only how to get the most out of your car, but also how to maintain your vehicle so that you can drive it safely. 

“While some seem to get it right in terms of reading length and accessibility, other manufacturers may need to think about whether they’re making their manuals overly complex.”

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 pavecampaign.org/europe