New £8.4m CAV testing facility at Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire

A new 6km testing facility for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) is being constructed at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome and Proving Ground in Leicestershire.

The development, to be known as the Cavway, is expected to cost £8.4m, including £4m of government funding.

It will feature an array of highways designed by consortium partner Applus+ IDIADA, including smart motorways, rural B roads, urban A roads and all kinds of junctions.

Dave Walton, managing director of Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, said “The site at Bruntingthorpe and the experience of the Bruntingthorpe team, together with IDIADA’s experience in designing and operating proving grounds, will allow us to develop a world class CAV facility which will attract intelligent vehicle development activities to the UK.”

The project is backed by Zenzic, previously Meridian Mobility, a joint government and industry initiative tasked with accelerating connected and driverless vehicle technologies in the UK.

SMMT report promotes UK leadership in driverless cars

A new report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Frost & Sullivan claims the UK is “among the front runners” in developing and deploying driverless cars.

Published in April 2019, Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Winning the Global Race to Market highlights the UK driverless car road trials and identifies three key factors: 1) enabling regulations; 2) enabling infrastructure; and 3) market attractiveness.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “Over the coming decade, today’s driver assistance technology and the next generation of autonomous systems are set to save 3,900 lives and create 420,000 new jobs across automotive and adjacent sectors – with an overall annual £62 billion economic benefit to the UK by 2030.”

Head of mobility at Frost & Sullivan, Sarwant Singh, said: “The UK has a near perfect blend of attributes that will help it capitalise on CAV deployment. These include a forward-thinking approach to legislation, advanced technology infrastructure, highly skilled labour force and technology savvy customer base.”

A big caveat, according to Hawes, is the need to leave the EU in an orderly fashion.

You can read the full report here.

Win for Wi-Fi over 5G in connected car technology race

In a controversial move, the European Commission (EC) has backed Wi-Fi-based ITS-G5 over its 5G-based rival, C-V2X, in the race to become the standard for internet connected cars.

The clincher was apparently that Wi-Fi is already widely available, but many see it as a victory for ITS-G5 supporters Volkswagen, Renault and NXP, who claim it is better for time-critical communications such as crash avoidance.

In the opposite corner, big hitters like Ford, Daimler, Deutsche Telekom and Huawei back C-V2X, arguing that it can support a wider range of applications.

The US and China are both expected to endorse 5G and driverless car cybersecurity is very much in the spotlight.

According to Techradar, Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA (the trade association for mobile network operators), wrote to the European Parliament criticising Wi-Fi as old technology.

Meanwhile, Reuters quoted Lise Fuhr, director general of telecoms lobbying group ETNO, as saying: “Europe cannot mandate only one technology for connected driving. Member states can now correct this by bringing 4G and 5G back into the picture: global competitiveness and safety are at stake.”

The EC legislation still requires approval in the European Council, so the victory for Wi-Fi isn’t assured yet.

Tackling driverless car cybersecurity threats: prevention, detection and mitigation

84% of automotive professionals have concerns that their organisational cybersecurity practices are failing to keep pace with evolving technologies, according to a new report by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

This is a major worry, and something of a disappointment, given it is nearly four years since the notorious Wired video in which hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek remotely seized control of a Jeep Cherokee containing journalist Andy Greenberg:

Wired video: hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek remotely seize control of a Jeep

“Seriously, it’s fucking dangerous,” he protested as they killed the engine while he was driving on a US highway.

These days, of course, there are millions more internet enabled ‘connected cars’ potentially susceptible to such attacks.

Despite this, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) rules on cybersecurity engineering in relation to road vehicles are still “under development”.

Last year, the Cyber Security Body Of Knowledge (CyBOK) proposed a three-stage approach to tackling the issue: 1) Prevention; 2) Detection; and 3) Mitigation.

However, it warned: “Even with good techniques to prevent introduction of vulnerabilities in new code, or to detect vulnerabilities in existing code, there is bound to be a substantial amount of legacy code with vulnerabilities in active use for the foreseeable future.”

Just this month, Jaguar Land Rover suggested that fully driverless cars might need a billion lines of code, meaning a lot of scope for loopholes.

The good news is there’s a massive profit incentive for anyone coming up with a robust solution, so tech giants, vehicle manufacturers and start-ups are all on the case.

For example, the Innovate UK-funded 5StarS project brings together experts from Horiba Mira, Ricardo, Roke, Axillium and Thatcham.

Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer at Thatcham, said: “The 5StarS consortium aims to introduce a new system of star ratings for the security of autonomous cars against cyber-attacks, like Euro NCAP’s ratings for the crash safety of cars.”

Trade tips: advanced driver assistance system repairs

Please note: a version of this article first appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of IMI Magazine and was written for a motor trade audience.

Strongly-worded manufacturer statements about fitting only original equipment (OE) parts on vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are common in America, and now they’ve crossed the pond.

First, Honda asserted that non-OE windscreens might cause ADAS malfunctions due to the front-facing camera not being able to aim properly. Then, last summer, General Motors (GM) warned US dealers against using aftermarket or reconditioned bumpers of all things.

To a certain extent, you can understand why they’re so protective. A recent IIHS study of GM vehicles in 23 US states found that models with auto-braking and forward-collision warning systems had 43% fewer front-to-rear crashes. It also found that 64% fewer injuries resulted from such collisions, compared to similar models without ADAS.

Closer to home, on 30 January this year, Mazda’s parts and accessories sales manager, Dave Elphick, spoke at Auto Windscreens’ Automotive Connecting Conference of only being able to guarantee ADAS if vehicles had the same parts as when they left the factory.

Alistair Carlton, technical manager at National Windscreens, agrees that the introduction of cameras and radar represents a massive change. “Until a few years ago, we in the glazing industry didn’t really deal with vehicle electrics, other than maybe a winder motor when repairing a smashed side window,” he says.

“Last year we served 30,000 ADAS customers and a third of our technicians are now ADAS-qualified. It is still a small percentage of our overall work, but it is growing fast and it won’t be long before all our technicians will need to be ADAS-qualified.

“There are two types of calibration: static and dynamic. Static requires a target board to be accurately positioned at ‘x’ point in front of the camera. The diagnostic tool asks the car if it can ‘see’ the target and, if so, make any necessary fine adjustments within the vehicle software. This needs to be carried out in workshop conditions with plenty of space, good level flooring and stable lighting.

“Dynamic calibration is more of a system check. Using a diagnostic tool, you place the car into calibration mode and go through a drive cycle, where an internal tick list is checked-off to complete the action. There are a small number of self-testing cameras which carry out the dynamic calibration themselves – maybe one day they’ll all be self-calibrating, but that’s a long way off.”

As to the VM statements, Carlton says: “We counter these claims in two ways: firstly, we only fit quality products – yes, there are inferior products out there but it would be a false economy for us to use them; secondly, we work to the standards of the VMs with the highest specifications and closest tolerances. We often find we have better kit and more expertise than the dealers. In some cases, they’re actually the customer.”

He’s spot on about needing knowledge. As Bosch points out: “The buyer of a base BMW 520SE can now opt for Driver Assistance Plus, Driver Assistance, ACC with StopGo, Night Vision, Parking Assistant or Parking Assistant Plus. Every combination of these systems will have a different sensor configuration and require a specific calibration routine.”

There’s also the small matter of finding the relevant sensor. For example, the adaptive cruise control (ACC) radar sensor on a Golf is a square device mounted below the grille. On a Passat, it’s behind the badge, where Mercedes also like to hide it. What’s more, independent garages are going to be seeing a lot more of these jobs, with JD Power’s 2018 UK Vehicle Dependability Study highlighting multiple ADAS bugs in newer premium cars.

Neil Hilton, head of business development at Hella, was on the Thatcham steering group which finalised the code of practice for glass replacement. “There would be merit in having something similar for other repairs,” he suggests. “ADAS is part of a natural progression towards fully autonomous vehicles. You see it on virtually every new vehicle now, from the largest to the smallest, the cheapest to the most expensive.

“Manufacturers are actively promoting the benefits of these systems and Ford showed the way with its sharp marketing campaign on how cameras and road sign recognition, along with speed-limiting software, can help ensure you never get a speeding ticket.

“Systems like lane departure, autonomous braking and blind-spot detection are increasingly fused together, so when you recalibrate one camera or radar you have to check the others too. Even something like changing a steering rack can affect the data line that acts as the control point for all systems across the car.

“It’s nearly six years since we launched our HGS tool and we pride ourselves on sharing information with the aftermarket. Surprisingly, there can still be a tendency among general repair workshops to think ‘this won’t affect us’, but ADAS is so widespread that our windscreen customers are now expanding into the 360-view calibration and radar.

“Block Exemption means parts must be of a reasonable standard and comparable quality. If a reset gives a satisfactory result then the system is calibrated. What’s important is to promote reputable garages – those who attend training and invest in the right equipment.”

Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer at Thatcham, has high praise for ADAS, describing it as a life-saver. “The constant influx of new systems makes it a fantastically interesting time to be involved in the industry, but we have to plan for it from a repair perspective 5-6 years down the line,” he says.

“Compare the original Tesla Model 3 to where they are now – more cameras, radar, lidar, ever more sophisticated sensors. Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) will be mandatory, but Euro NCAP is already driving it. The slope just keeps getting steeper in terms of complexity, and this means more potential for failures.

“We urge manufacturers to better support these technologies because there’s almost an information vacuum. The guidance needs to be clearer, more available and reasonable. Should you have to recalibrate after a minor scrape? The whole industry needs to align – to agree a considered approach which keeps costs under control while delivering safe repairs. We have a vibrant aftermarket in the UK and manufacturers who behave sensibly will get a reputational benefit.”

But haven’t we already had this argument – isn’t this what Right to Repair was all about? Some VMs apparently think ADAS could be key to reopening the debate.

Shock news: driverless cars threaten driving jobs

The impact of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) on jobs is a hot topic this week.

In Northern Ireland, a study by the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) concluded that 58% of jobs are at risk of “substantial change” due to advances in AI, robotics and other technologies.

The report highlighted a re-emergence of ‘automation anxiety’ and concerns about the future of work.

However, it also asserted that “while automation may destroy some jobs, an equal or greater number of jobs will likely be created in the aftermath.”

Nice use of “likely”.

In India, The News Minute reported on a keynote speech by the country’s Telecom Secretary, Aruna Sundararajan.

“Adoption of digital technology has proved to be a great democratiser and leveller,” she said. “But digital is also throwing up many challenges and there are no easy answers to them.

“There are various estimates about the rate at which jobs are becoming irrelevant – from 10% to a high of 70%.”

Sundararajan suggested that a universal basic income could be part of the solution.

“The idea of providing universal basic income is gaining ground because a lot of Silicon Valley leaders are pushing for it,” she said.

In the UK, research by MoneySuperMarket found that automation of driving jobs could trigger large-scale redundancies by as early as 2023.

Seán Kemple, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, noted: “The courier service industry is already anticipating huge changes, particularly for last-mile delivery, and not much further down the line the taxi industry is likely to change too.”

One reassuring point which cropped up in the University of Michigan’s Self-Driving Cars Teach-Out was the continuing need for humans in roles variously described as operators, attendants, concierges or guides.

This dovetails with a recent Opinium survey for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which found that 77% believe driverless vehicles in the UK should have someone ready to take the wheel.

Ben Lawson, vice president of mobility and project development at Enterprise Rent-A-Car UK, said: “There are many elements that will determine when driverless cars become mainstream including the technology itself, consumer attitudes, affordability and public policy.”

Something akin to the long-running argument about the need for train guards seems – to coin a phrase – likely.

Driverless car laws and insurance

The Law Commission of England and Wales is currently undertaking a far-reaching review of the legal framework for driverless cars… and insurers are keen to contribute.

The deadline for submissions to the preliminary consultation paper passed last week and AXA Insurance has highlighted what it hopes will be key themes:

1) Access to data and a transparent framework for effective data governance is fundamental for establishing liability and accurate risk modelling.

2) The legal and regulatory framework must clearly define the responsibilities of the users of autonomous vehicles (AVs) and any changes to the current road safety regime.

3) Consumers must be educated on their responsibilities, how the equipment should be used and the regulations attached to them.

Noting the Government’s recent announcement on the advanced trials for self-driving vehicles, David Williams, managing director of underwriting and technical services at AXA, said: “We are only in February but the world of driverless has started 2019 at a blistering pace.

“It might not sound as exciting as trials and tech, but as driverless cars are rapidly becoming a reality, it is right now that we need think about the legal aspects of this technology. The consultation had 46 detailed questions on areas ranging from the responsibilities of a human user to the need for data retention.”

In its submission, the International Underwriting Association (IUA), which represents many of the world’s largest insurance companies, argued that accident data should be automatically retained.

Chris Jones, IUA director of legal and market services, said: “The technology surrounding driverless cars is developing rapidly. It is essential, therefore, that an effective framework is established governing their operation. Insurers have a vital role to play in this process.

“In order for liability to be established, vehicle data must be recorded and made available. This will include, for example, the status of the automated system, whether engaged or disengaged, the speed of the vehicle and any camera footage from the time of the accident.

“As information expands and usage grows, we are likely to see potential vulnerabilities highlighted and new risk areas emerge. We anticipate that the technology will be capable of self-reporting system errors, defects and other issues affecting road worthiness.”

In a sign of things to come, Bloomberg reports that entrepreneur Dan Peate has launched Avinew, with $5m in seed funding, offering an insurance product which monitors drivers’ use of autonomous features in cars made by Tesla, Nissan, Ford and Cadillac.

Discounts will be determined based on how the features are used, after the customer has given permission for their driving data to be accessed.

This seems a logical next step in telematics or ‘black box’ insurance, which tracks the way you drive and links it to the amount you pay.

In terms of what happens in the event of an accident, a story in the Daily Express explained how a fraudulent claim worth £6,000 was prevented using telematics.

A Renault Clio driver facing a whiplash claim was cleared by data showing that the incident occurred at under 5mph. Martyne Miller, associate director of Coverbox said: “The data was able to successfully refute a substantial claim, saving both the motorist and the insurer money.”

Once cars are fully autonomous, Rodney Parker, associate professor of operations management at Indiana University, predicts that “liability is likely to migrate from the individual to the manufacturer and the licensers of the software that drives the AV.”

There’s also the possibility that motorists could be encouraged out of driving via the prohibitive cost of insurance.

The Law Commission was asked to look at the legal framework for driverless cars by the UK’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), a joint Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Department for Transport (DfT) policy team.

If these insurer submissions are anything to go by, the focus will be at least as much on the connected elements as the autonomous ones.

Will it have anything to say about who to save in no-win crash situations or who should be the data controller?

The final report is due in March 2021.

UK’s first independent 5G mobile testbed goes live at Millbrook

The UK’s first independent 5G-enabled mobile network – a key technology for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) – has launched at Bedfordshire’s Millbrook Proving Ground.

On 12 February 2019, the AutoAir consortium demonstrated data speeds of over one gigabit per second (1Gbps) to vehicles travelling at up to 160mph. For example, live 4K video streaming.

Established in April 2018, AutoAir is led by wireless broadband specialist Airspan Networks, with partners including McLaren Applied Technologies and the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre.

Alex Burns, president of Millbrook, said: “The infrastructure allows our customers to test and develop CAV systems to a quality and level of detail never before realised in this country.”

Brendan O’Reilly, of Telefónica UK, added: “Test networks at sites like Millbrook will be crucial in understanding how 5G will enable the development of CAVs as well as the associated business and consumer use cases which will transform the automotive sector.”

The challenge of London: can driverless cars unblock the world’s sixth most gridlocked city?

Today’s two new statements from the London Assembly – one on the cost of congestion and the other on changes to the licensing guidelines for taxis and minicabs – have highlighted major transport problems in the capital… issues which connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) could potentially help to solve.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, said: “The revelation that London is the sixth most gridlocked city in the world, behind Moscow, Istanbul, Bogota and Mexico City, will come as no surprise to most road users.
 
“This is a shockingly expensive fact and hugely damaging to our global reputation. Getting millions of Londoners to and from work every day is a massive challenge – but we really have to try harder for the sake of our economy and our environment.
 
“The need to improve London’s public transport capacity is desperate – hence the urgent necessity for Crossrail and for more people to walk and cycle whenever possible.” 

Notably, the Transport Committee’s 65-page 2017 report London Stalling described the current Congestion Charge as “no longer fit for purpose” and recommended that “the Mayor should make plans now to introduce road pricing.”

Transport data firm Inrix has since calculated that the average road user in London lost up to £1,680 last year due to traffic jams.

There’s little doubt that smart highways and connected cars could help to ease congestion, or that electric vehicles would cut the damage from tailpipe emissions.

Admittedly, Adam Millard-Ball’s concern that self-driving cars could exacerbate the problem by cruising to get around paying for parking (as outlined in A dystopian vision of polluted London) would need to be tackled.

As to the government’s proposed new licensing guidelines for taxis and minicabs – which would require cabbies to pass enhanced criminal record checks – Pidgeon said: “Anything that improves the safety of passengers has to be a good thing.
 
“We need to prevent the likes of John Worboys from being able to operate as a legitimate licensed driver again and stop the worrying numbers of sexual assaults in minicabs.
 
“The big miss in the government response to the Department for Transport (DfT) Review is the statutory definition of plying for hire not being resolved. This has long been a major bone of contention and it appears to be too hard to resolve, so they aren’t going to try.”

Under existing regulations, private hire vehicles (PHVs) may only pick up passengers when pre-booked, rather than from a rank or being hailed.

However, the RMT, the union for transport workers, asserts that: “ smartphone apps such as Uber are circumventing the law governing the taxi and minicab industry”.

If the authorities haven’t even got their heads around smartphones yet, they’ve certainly got a lot of thinking to do when it comes to driverless cars, not least the thorny issue of who to save in no-win crash situations.

CASE study: connected, autonomous, something and electric

The motor industry is notoriously fond of an acronym and here’s a new one which might just catch on: CASE.

In this case, C stands for connected, A for autonomous and E for electric, but there’s disagreement about what the S should stand for.

Vehicle manufacturer Daimler goes for connected, autonomous, shared and electric, although if you dig a bit deeper into their website they keep their options open with “shared and services”.

“Each of these has the power to turn our entire industry upside down,” said Dr Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of Daimler AG. “But the true revolution is in combining them in a comprehensive, seamless package.”

Over at car parts maker ZF, Andy Whydell, vice president of systems product planning for active and passive safety, goes for connected, autonomous, safe and electric.

For explanations of other vehicle-related terms and acronyms, see our Cars of the Future glossary.