Reva2’s “more humble” self-driving concept uses painted lines embedded with RFID chips.

Allez les blue lines! France’s Reva2 offers simpler self-driving

Matthias Vanoni, acting CEO at Reva2, on plans to put on-demand self-driving pods on the streets of Nice, in the south of France, by 2025… using clever blue lines.

Matthias Vanoni, acting CEO of French self-driving company Reva2
Matthias Vanoni, acting CEO of French self-driving project Reva2

“We have problems with cars, in that there are too many of them in our cities, bringing pollution, traffic jams and parking space shortages,” he said.

“One solution is to switch from everyone having a personal car to mobility as a service (MAAS). We saw the success of Uber in that direction. But still, it’s costly, and the driver represents around 70% of the cost.

Affordable self-driving

“Electric self-driving cars can bring affordable mobility to the masses, driving a massive transition away from personal vehicles. Withdrawing a lot of the cars from cities means less co2 emissions and less traffic, much better from a climate change point of view.

“The traditional car manufacturers talk about making their cars drive themselves anytime, anywhere. They have spent hundreds of billions pushing for level five autonomy, and it has not been successful.

“Look at the comments of people like Anthony Levandowski (formerly of Google’s Waymo). It’s too big a moonshot to have self-driving cars everywhere.

“That’s why the founder of Reva2, Raoul Parienti, came up with this more humble idea: The Blue Line System. Limit self-driving to the city and do it using a blue line painted onto the road, embedded with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips for positioning.”

Video: Reva2’s self-driving solution

“This way you no longer need GPS or artificial intelligence,” he continued. “You reduce it to one dimension – you ask the car to follow the blue line, like a tramway. It is an infinitely simpler solution, and the cars can synchronise into a vehicle train using secure wireless connections. 

“We had the patent for that in 2007. From 2022, we have a new patent allowing the car to follow digital lines. An advantage being that this covers the blue line being distorted or covered by snow.

“Make a Reva2 booking on your smartphone and a vehicle will come to you automatically, within minutes, and drop you at your desired destination.

“We have partnered with a specialised concept car company in the south of France to make the first six cars. We also have another partner for delivering the first 12km of blue lines.”

Reva2 self-driving vehicle train
Reva2 self-driving vehicle train

Nice self-driving

“The mayor of Nice is very much an ambassador for our solution, and we are in discussion with the French government and others to get funding in place to launch a pilot there.

“The plan is for this phase to be completed by the end of 2026, and then we industrialise. The Nice metropolis has a population of around half a million people, so the full solution would involve around 7,500 cars.

“We are already in discussion with larger French cities, like Marseille, too, and beyond that we will look at licences to operate in other countries, such as the UK.”

For further info see

Introducing the inaugural Self-driving Industry Awards…

Celebrate automated mobility! Entries open now for the Self-driving Industry Awards 2023

Celebrating excellence in automated mobility, in the UK and internationally, entries are open now for the inaugural Self-driving Industry Awards.

Presented by Cars of the Future, the Self-driving Industry Awards 2023 cover all aspects of this exciting and fast-growing ecosystem.

From impressive engineering and design developments, to essential work in areas such as insurance and public trust, peer recognition plays an important part, with all entrants nominating a self-driving Person of the Year and Vehicle of the Year.

A Self-driving Industry Awards spokesperson said: “If you’ve made a telling contribution to self-driving – launched the world’s best robotaxi or last-mile delivery robot, made a technological leap, or provided incredible thought leadership – then you should be entering these awards.”

The deadline for entries is 5pm UK-time on Friday 29 September 2023, with all shortlisted candidates receiving an invitation to the Awards ceremony in November.

For further info, including a full list of the award categories, please visit #SDIA23

Self-driving expert Professor Siddartha Khastgir on the Cross-Domain Safety Assurance for Automated Transport Systems report

Cross-domain safety: What do self-driving and automated air and sea transport have in common?

WMG at the University of Warwick, home of The National Automotive Innovation Centre, has reached for the sky (and sea) with ground-breaking research into safe automated land, air and marine mobility.

In early 2022, Professor Siddartha Khastgir, Head of Verification & Validation at WMG, reached out to experts in other automated transport sectors, to see if there were opportunities to learn from each other to unblock the safety challenges in the self-driving industry.

38 organisations got involved, including self-driving big-hitters Wayve, Oxa (formerly Oxbotica), Aurrigo, and Imperium Drive, along with a host of UK universities and regulatory bodies. All gave their time freely for this mission.

The result is the Cross-Domain Safety Assurance for Automated Transport Systems report, published in March 2023.

Self-driving insights: The Cross-Domain Safety Assurance for Automated Transport Systems report, March 2023.
Self-driving insights: The Cross-Domain Safety Assurance for Automated Transport Systems report, March 2023.

“The economic potential of the global automated transport ecosystem is projected to reach over £750 billion by 2035, with a UK market share of approximately 6% representing £42 billion and creating up to 38,000 new jobs,” the report begins – breath-taking figures.

“However, safety remains the biggest challenge for commercialisation of automated transport systems (ATS). Safety and the corresponding perceived safety of ATS technology has a direct correlation with the development of trust and acceptance in the technology.”

Quite right, as Professor Khastgir knows better than perhaps anyone. Having started his career with Tata Motors in India (having taken part in the Formula Student engineering competition during his undergraduate days at IIT Kharagpur), he worked with OEMs in Germany for FEV, before doing a PhD in trust in automation and test methodologies for automated driving systems at WMG.

With in-depth knowledge of both the engineering challenges and the human factors, he has led and helped draft many of the UK and international standards around Operational Design Domains (ODDs). He’s also a member of the Department for Transport (DfT) Science Advisory Council and a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellow.

NK: How did this cross-industry self-driving initiative come about?

SK: “After my PhD, I established a team on verification and validation at WMG, looking at how to prove that self-driving cars are safe. We spent four or five years working on a methodology which would be scalable. At that time, we were still very car focused. The methodology we created is underpinned by the ODD concept and its definition.

“We started sharing the ODD concept with different players in the self-driving ecosystem – industry players and regulators. We had a lot of discussions with the DfT, the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), the European Commission, and also industry. I was very humbled by the response, to the extent that our framework is actually in the EU automated driving legislation that was published last year.

“We felt that, because of the framework’s scalability, it could be translated into aviation and maritime autonomy. If you look at the ODD concept and detach it from self-driving cars, from a first principles level, it can work in other sectors. So, we started liaising with different stakeholders in automated marine and aviation.

“We took what we did in self-driving, abstracted it, and identified things that we thought would be similar and different. We then held an event in London, in March last year, where we presented it to stakeholders from all the sectors. It seemed to capture the imagination – everybody wanted to come on this journey with us. All along, we knew self-driving would also benefit from learning from aviation and maritime.

“Getting people from all these different domains into the same room – people willing to collaborate and with a genuine appetite to learn – is no mean feat, a big success for WMG.”

NK: Tell us about the report itself and the main findings…

SK: “We identified three areas that the safety assurance for autonomous solutions ecosystem really needs help with. The first was a safety framework and metrics, the second was virtual test environments (simulations), and the third was communicating safety. The last one in particular – societal acceptance of this technology – is underappreciated in most discussions.

“We urged all stakeholders – developers, manufacturers, fleet service providers, regulators and policymakers – to work together to demonstrate and communicate safety, rather than competing using safety as a selling point, a philosophy we are championing.

“We created three working parties and over the last year they’ve held 10 workshops, equating to over 200 person days of work. That led to the Cross-Domain Safety Assurance for Automated Transport Systems report, which we authored, capturing all the inputs from these workshops. We launched it in March this year, and it was very well received, not only in the UK, but internationally.

“We’ve had a lot of feedback and the next step is to implement the recommendations detailed in the executive summary, covering themes of evaluating safety and communicating safety. We have already started with the implementation phase. Some of the most interesting feedback was on communicating safety. People felt that this is not talked about enough. Communicating safety is a very important USP of the work we’re doing, considering safety more holistically, not just as an engineering subject.

“Both of these concepts – evaluating safety and communicating safety – remain true for land, aviation and maritime autonomy applications. But not everything is similar. For validation of your simulation, a classic difference is the qualifying thresholds between real-world and virtual world, which would be different for each sector. However, a lot of the processes and approaches used would be common, but those kinds of subtleties are important.”

NK: How will the report’s recommendations be implemented?

SK: “At the report launch event, we had the chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, Greg Clark, the chair of the Transport Select Committee, Iain Stewart, and the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Louise Haigh, as well as high level speakers from many different organisations.

MPs on the Cross-Domain Safety Assurance for Automated Transport Systems panel
MPs at the Cross-Domain Safety Assurance for Automated Transport Systems report launch

“A major part of our work at WMG, apart from the research and working with industry, is driving impact for our research through leading and influencing the international standards and regulation. We are involved with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards, and I am part of the discussions at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) forum. It is all about translating strong research evidence into regulations, because I strongly believe that regulations can be an enabler for automated technology.”

The MP’s notable commitments can be seen in this video:

Self-driving safety

Iain Stewart, MP for self-driving hotbed Milton Keynes South, said: “This technology is coming. We have to get it right. Together, we will be able to come up with that sensible set of world-leading regulations.”

Greg Clark, MP for Royal Tunbridge Wells, said: “In terms of the impacts of this programme, which are already considerable, Iain and myself, and our members, will make sure that government is aware of, and takes up, the requirements of the recommendations that are made.”

Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, said: “There’s a real economic opportunity in this type of innovation – from enhancing wellbeing and improving quality of life, through to reducing carbon emissions, the potential is there.”

There are further telling national and international contributions from Dr Biagio Ciuffo, Smart Mobility Project Portfolio Leader at the European Commission Joint Research Centre, Tony Boylen, Principal Specialist in Assurance of Autonomy at Lloyd’s Register, Michael Gadd, Head of Office of Airworthiness at Blue Bear Systems Research, Tim Johnson, Policy Director at Civil Aviation Authority, Dr Genovefa Kefalidou, Lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction at University of Leicester, and Nick Fleming, Associate Director of Transport & Mobility at BSI, amongst many others.

The full Cross-Domain Safety Assurance for Automated Transport Systems report (March 2023) can be found here.

From car sharing to emissions-based parking, Anne Snelson is one of the UK’s leading experts in transport carbon literacy – can self-driving help?

Can self-driving help cut emissions and congestion?

Delivering on our promise to focus more on the environmental impacts of self-driving, we talk congestion, emissions and car sharing with Anne Snelson, founder of Lead With Sustainability

We were alerted to Anne’s fantastic work by motoring journalist Quentin Willson, who highlighted her challenge to LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky to promote new (rather disturbing) research into soaring Atlantic surface temperatures. In June, she reposted Dr Matthias Standfest’s prediction that “hurricanes, wildfires, heatwaves and droughts will shape the news of the next months”.

Since then, we’ve seen the dire consequences of climate change from Athens to Texas, the go-ahead for more oil and gas extraction in the North Sea, and Labour blaming the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for its by-election loss in Uxbridge. Oh, and July was officially the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.

NK: How did you come to specialise in carbon literacy?

AS: “Gosh, it has been quite a journey! I was a policy researcher at the AA in the 1990s, looking at things like car sharing and ways to encourage motorists to cycle. Then I was at Vodafone for a while. Then I was marketing manager at RingGo for many years, which included rolling-out an award-winning emissions-based parking solution.

“In 2009, the Liberal Democrat-led council in Richmond made a commitment to reduce emissions, so we worked with them to introduce carbon metered parking, whereby the price varies according to the emissions emitted by the vehicle in question. It had a significant impact, encouraging a transfer to electric vehicles (even though they were much less developed than they are today), and reducing the unnecessary use of larger vehicles. The scheme went on to be rolled-out in Westminster, resulting in a 16% drop in the use of diesel vehicles virtually overnight.

“After stints at EV network Co Charger and traffic monitoring company VivaCity, about two years ago, I made a life changing decision. I was obviously aware of the science around climate change, so my daughter kept asking me what I was going to do about it. The answer was to train in carbon literacy and offer my services as a consultant in the transport arena. That’s Lead With Sustainability.”

NK: What does it involve and how’s it all going?

AS: “The feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive. Most importantly, it is leading to actions, making a real difference. We encourage businesses to look at their emissions and see where they can cut them. What’s the point in making money, owning big houses and travelling the world if there’s nowhere for our children and grandchildren to live?

“As well as the climate emergency, there’s the practical day-to-day problem that much of our road network is constantly on the verge of gridlock. So, we push the move to electric and also the fact that we simply must reduce car use.

“Good public transport is part of the solution, as is active travel. We also look at smart city ideas like 15-minute neighbourhoods – having everything you need within easy reach. That involves tackling thorny issues such as car ownership and car sharing.

“First, there has to be the provision, and then you have to incentivise people to make the switch. For example, with separate lanes for multi-occupancy vehicles. If alternative modes are faster and cheaper then people will naturally change their behaviours.”

Lead With Sustainability carbon literacy training testimonial

NK: And what role can self-driving play?

AS: “Connectivity can bring about changes even before we get to the higher levels of driving automation. Software could give Mr Jones the option of picking up Mr Smith, who is just round the corner and going to the same place, and that choice could be incentivised.

“A potentially negative scenario with self-driving is you could have lots of empty vehicles driving around causing further congestion. That’s arguably worse than having a big SUV with only the driver in it, which, ridiculously, you still see all the time. The increasing size of luxury vehicles is another issue.

“In London, a high percentage of people have already given up their cars, because they’re so expensive and inefficient. I accept that step might be more difficult for others, such as those living in rural areas, due to the lack of a viable alternative. But sometimes all you need is a change in attitude. I live in a medium sized commuter town and I’ve given up my car. It’s easier for some than others though.

“We’re working with local authorities and businesses of all shapes and sizes to educate people about these issues, to raise awareness of UK and international climate policies, to make people realise they can change the world for the better by reducing greenhouse gases.

“Particularly within councils, we encourage people to break out of their silos. A major problem is that, very often, parking is still separate from air quality, which is separate from highways, with little discussion between these divisions.

“Without major changes in the way we live, we’re heading for some pretty hard times. Fortunately, cities such as Glasgow and Nottingham already have ambitious carbon zero targets. Evolving technologies like clean fuel buses, self-driving or otherwise, will be part of that. My aim is to motivate people to reduce emissions at a personal, community and business level. And, in the process, they’ll save money too.”

Lead With Sustainability transport factsheet- can self-driving help
Lead With Sustainability transport factsheet- can self-driving help?

For further info, to download a free factsheet, or to book an online Carbon Literacy Training session, visit

Zenzic CAM Scale-Up cohort 4: Gamma, Helix, Megasets, Reed and Robotiz3d

Zenzic announces pioneering CAM Scale-Up 2023 winners

In July, Zenzic announced the latest five companies to receive support via its prestigious CAM Scale-Up UK programme.

The cohort 4 winners are, in alphabetical order: Gamma Energy; Helix Geospace; Megasets; Reed Mobility; and Robotiz3d.

In brief

Gamma specialises in renewable energy and is a partner in the Project Cambridge Connector on-demand self-driving taxi trial.

Helix develops antennas and array systems to improve navigation precision and offer enhanced resilience against jamming and spoofing. 

Shortlisted last year, Megasets has now successfully won backing to develop its AV synthetic datasets.

Reed Mobility, recognised as a Zenzic CAM Creator back in 2020 (along with a certain self-driving news source), is the independent expert consultancy on future mobility run by Dr Nick Reed.

Last but not least, Robotiz3d is developing robots with machine learning capabilities for road maintenance, particularly fixing potholes.

CAM: Robotiz3d self-driving pothole fixer
Robotiz3d self-driving pothole fixer

CAM innovation

A Zenzic statement read: “These pioneering companies have demonstrated remarkable potential in the field of connected and automated mobility (CAM), and we are excited to support their journey towards bringing their innovative solutions to the market.​

“Their participation in the Zenzic CAM Scale-Up UK programme will provide them with unique opportunities to test and refine their products at the renowned CAM Testbed UK facilities, ensuring their solutions meet the highest standards of performance and safety.​

“We eagerly anticipate witnessing the incredible progress and achievements of these selected start-ups and SMEs as they contribute to the self-driving revolution in the UK and beyond.​”

With big-name corporate partners including Honda, Thales and Vodafone, their work will be celebrated at the showcase CAM Innovators event in March 2024 – you can read our review of this year’s event here.

For further info visit

Report suggests 60%+ particulate matter emission and energy consumption reductions from self-driving.

Chinese self-driving study claims huge environmental benefit

A new study from China has concluded that self-driving could reduce both emissions and energy consumption by more than 60%, potentially increasing to 76% if combined with vehicle electrification.

Discovered as part of our pledge to focus more on the environmental impacts of self-driving, the “Energy and environmental impacts of shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs) under different pricing strategies” paper was published by Nature in February, in partnership with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

Self-driving emissions reduction

Designed to help transport authorities gain a deeper understanding of future trends, the report’s lead author was Dr Shaopeng Zhong, of Dalian University of Technology.

“The introduction of vehicle automation, shared mobility, and vehicle electrification will bring about changes in urban transportation, land use, energy, and the environment,” it begins.

“However, existing research on estimating the energy and environmental effects of shared autonomous electric vehicles generally ignores the interaction between land-use and transportation systems.

“Under an appropriate pricing strategy, SAV deployment could reduce particulate matter emission and energy consumption by 56–64% and 53–61%, respectively. With the further introduction of vehicle electrification, these can rise to 76% and 74%.”

Double-edged sword

The report goes on to describe SAVs as a double-edged sword, because “On the one hand, SAVs can save energy and reduce emissions by, for example, promoting transportation efficiency, increasing road capacity, mitigating congestion, reducing accident frequency, matching vehicle sizes to trip requirements and eco-driving.

“On the other hand, SAVs can lower people’s marginal travel costs and make the locational decisions of residents and enterprises more free, leading to urban sprawl and increased travel time, distance, and frequency.”

The team therefore compared various SAV development scenarios for Jiangyin, a region of China at the forefront of self-driving, before concluding that: “An appropriate SAV fare can play an integral part in promoting sustainable development. Pricing policy will affect public acceptance of SAVs and is also an important means of realising effective SAV.”

Neil Kennett MOVE 2023 event review – self-driving, software-defined, clean fuel and more…

Self-driving at MOVE 2023: renewed focus on environmental impacts

MOVE, “The world’s most important urban mobility event”, returned to London last week with two action packed days at the ExCeL centre.

As well as moderating the software defined vehicle panel, and seeing a vast array of amazing new self-driving-related tech from established multinationals and innovative start-ups, it was my pleasure to host the morning session on the Autonomous Vehicles stage.

MOVE Pledge 2023

Let’s start with my #MOVE2023 pledge. The organisers ask all speakers to make “a concrete pledge towards safer, smarter and more sustainable mobility”, for which we can be held accountable at next year’s event. In this pre-event piece I mused that I might just repeat my pledge from last year. Actually, I didn’t.

My all-new MOVE pledge for this year is two-fold: To encourage people to read David Attenborough’s bestselling book – A Life on Our Planet – which is brilliant and quite scary; and to focus more on the environmental impacts of self-driving – an under-researched area with competing theories – some highly negative, some highly positive.

Neil Kennett #MOVE2023 self-driving pledge
Neil Kennett #MOVE2023 self-driving pledge

It is designed to remind myself (and you) that it is up to us to bring about the changes essential to avert ecological disaster. Taking my own advice, I met up with Jessica Battle, senior expert in global ocean policy and lead on the No Deep Seabed Mining Initiative at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – watch this space.

Self-driving stage

Our first speaker in Theatre 2 was Mark Cracknell, of Zenzic, who focussed on the role of SMEs in the connected and automated mobility ecosystem. He highlighted the world-leading projects funded via CCAV’s Commercialising CAM competition, asserting that no other country will have a greater breadth of self-driving services on the road by 2025.

It was standing room only for our next speaker, Dr Joanna White, Roads Development Director at National Highways, who set out plans to future-proof the UK’s road network for AVs. She highlighted the success of the HumanDrive project, and the fantastically-named Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Infrastructure Appraisal Readiness (CAVIAR) project.

Dr Joanna White, Roads Development Director at National Highways, at #MOVE2023
Dr Joanna White, of National Highways, at #MOVE2023

The first panel of the day saw Zeina Nazer, of Cities Forum, discussing new strategies for the safe deployment of ADAS and autonomous tech with Dr Nick Reed, in his role as chief road safety advisor to National Highways, and The Law Commission’s Nicholas Paines QC.

Paines noted that the three-year review of legislation to enable the deployment of automated vehicles on British roads was the first time the Commission had been asked to design a law for the future.

In response to a question from the audience, he also clarified that data protection was excluded from the terms of reference, instead being covered by GDPR.

They went on to cover the potential role of remote driving and the importance of public acceptance, with Reed highlighting the Vision Zero strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries.

Jayesh Jagasia, of the AI in Automotive podcast, then took over hosting, including introducing the aforementioned “Embracing the SDV: Welcome to life in the software defined lane” panel.

Moderated by my good self, it featured: Patrick Blume, Head of Product for Urban Mobility at Mercedes-Benz; John Wall, Senior Vice-President at BlackBerry and head of its QNX system; and Marcus Welz, Vice President of Smart Mobility at Hyundai Motor Europe. A pertinent fact is that BlackBerry QNX is now embedded in over 235 million vehicles worldwide.

We only had 25 minutes, but we crammed a lot in, delving into cybersecurity, common codebase, OTA updates, verification and validation, changing car sales models, in-car personalisation, smart city connectivity, MAAS, ADAS and self-driving.

Serious points included Wall outlining the ability to refresh cars already on the road, the huge investments in what Blume described as the race for a competitive advantage, and Welz revealing an initiative to encourage Hyundai staff into multi-modal transport. Now that’s progressive!

Lighter moments included Welz describing the shift to self-driving as “a transition to The Jetsons

We ended on the ability of near-future software-defined vehicles to reduce road traffic collisions, and therefore RTC fatalities and injuries, by up to 80% – oft-quoted maybe, but impressive, game-changing and thoroughly commendable nonetheless. My thanks to Max Kadera of MOVE and Lee the sound guy.

With moderating duties duly performed, I headed out into the arena, catching up with contacts old and new – Barbara Fitzsimons of Zenzic, Gunny Dhadyalla of AESIN, Karla Jakeman of TRL, Nick Fleming of BSI, Ben Loewenstein of Waymo and the IMI’s Mark Armitage.

ACES opinions

As IMI CEO Steve Nash noted: “MOVE represents the entire ACES (autonomous, connected, electric and shared) piece. You turn up with one opinion and have to moderate it after listening to all the different speakers.”

There were big eye-catching displays by business electric car subscription firm EZoo, ZF – with its Araiv Shuttle, powered by Oxa (formerly Oxbotica) – and HGV manufacturer Hydrogen Vehicle Systems. HVS are apparently talking to Fusion Processing (of CAVForth fame) about software – you heard it here first!

Hydrogen Vehicle Systems (HVS) at #MOVE2023
Hydrogen Vehicle Systems (HVS) at #MOVE2023

Further intriguing snippets included Teragence CEO Christian Rouffaert on their mobile connectivity data, Alex Bainbridge of Autoura on expansion in the US, Amir Tirosh of StoreDot on how their new EV fast charging delivers consistently better quality in record time, Sandip Gangakhedkar of Fetch on the expansion of their remote driving car delivery trial – now open to the public across Milton Keynes – and Dr Martin Dürr, of Dromos, on talks with city authorities around the world, particularly in the UK and US.

We’re already looking forward to #MOVE2024, at ExCeL again, on 19-20 June next year. In the meantime, we have our own event planned…

Cars of the Future flyer for #MOVE2023 mentioned a self-driving event
Our Cars of the Future flyer for #MOVE2023 mentioned a self-driving event…

BSI’s Nick Fleming and technical author Dr Nick Reed on the new Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) Vocabulary.

Talking our language in 2023: BSI Vocabulary shifts from CAV to CAM

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.

Self-driving experts: Nick Fleming of BSI and Nick Reed of Reed Mobility
CAM experts: Nick Fleming of BSI and Nick Reed of Reed Mobility

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.

BSI CAM Vocabulary definition: automated driving
BSI CAM Vocabulary definition: automated driving (2023)

“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.

BSI CAM Vocabulary definition: Dynamic entity (2023)
BSI CAM Vocabulary definition: Dynamic entity (2023)

“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.

Self-driving on track in 1967 feat. BBC Archive footage of an amazing connected, automated, shared and electric vehicle.

Cars of the Past: BBC’s 1967 report on self-driving Alden staRRcar

As regular Cars of the Future readers will know, we occasionally like to look back in a series we call… Cars of the Past. Well, today is one of those days.

Following last year’s release of a 1971 news broadcast on “driverless cars and the future of motoring”, the BBC Archive has published another great Retro Transport report: “The Self-Driving Car Of Tomorrow”, from 1967.

The “dual-mode” Self-Transport Road and Rail Car (staRRcar), was designed by Harvard graduate William Alden in the 1960s.

The report describes it as “America’s answer to the universal problem of personal transport in congested cities – combining the door-to-door convenience of the private car with the speed and relaxation of public transport at its best.”

Self-driving on track

The battery-powered three-seater can be driven ‘normally’ on local roads, but also has the ability to join automated guideways – 8ft-wide tracks designed to be installed alongside existing road lanes.

Self-driving on track in 1967: Alden staRRcar
Self-driving on track in 1967: Alden staRRcar

Users simply press a button to select their destination, sit back and read the paper, while the staRRcar slots into a train of such vehicles, self-driving at up to 60mph.

After taking a spur exit, they can retake control and continue their journey, or leave the staRRcar at a car park, ready to be used by others.

So… connected, automated, shared and electric (CASE) – that’s pretty forward-thinking for 2023, let alone 1967.

Thanks to Dr Nick Reed, of Reed Mobility, on Linkedin for putting us on to this video.

Related articles:

Cars of the Past: Sinclair C5 race in Margate

Cars of the Past: who needs seatbelts?

Malcolm Wilkinson, Head of Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) and Energy at National Highways, talks future mobility.

National Highways: Making CAVs Work For The UK

Malcolm Wilkinson, Head of Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) and Energy at National Highways, on intelligent infrastructure, freight platooning, hands-free zones and more…

National Highways has completed several major CAV studies recently – what are the most significant findings?

MW: “Our connected corridor project on the A2/M2 was very successful, certainly an important steppingstone. It was a joint project with Kent County Council (KCC), Transport for London (TfL), the Department for Transport (DfT) and others. We demonstrated that cellular and WiFi connectivity can be used to put highway information into vehicles, for example, signage, warnings and green lights. We also demonstrated that data can transfer the other way – to us from vehicles. The project informed our Digital Roads vision and Connected Services roadmap, influencing elements of our Digital for Customer programme.

“The Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Infrastructure Appraisal Readiness (CAVIAR) project used both simulations and real-world data collection. The number one recommendation was the need for further study to determine how CAVs can best navigate roadworks – that’s the next step. This potentially includes infrastructure-based solutions, such as smart traffic cones, and OEMs developing ‘cautious’ behaviours, to be triggered once a CAV enters a work zone.

“The HelmUK freight platooning trial, that we led, working closely with DfT, was another really valuable exercise. We demonstrated real-world use of platooning on the M5/M6, although the fuel savings were very modest, and didn’t replicate what we were seeing on the test tracks. This was largely due to the geography and the need to break up the platoon at many of the junctions.

“We recognise the challenges with rolling out something like this, even the difficulties in ensuring that vehicles from different logistics companies – from the large suppliers to two-lorry outfits – were travelling at the same time. It is one of those technologies you can see working brilliantly on long outback roads in Australia, but the advantages of putting it into every cab in the UK are far less obvious. It’s important to learn from initiative like the ENSEMBLE multi-brand truck platooning project in Europe.”

What are the most pressing CAV issues facing National Highways?

MW: “My feeling is that car manufacturers aren’t going to want to develop completely different models for the UK market, so we need to understand our role as a highway authority. What do we need to think about in terms of highway designs, data/information provision and maintenance standards? What do we need to be investigating and researching to make sure that we as the highway authority are playing our part, doing what motor manufacturers and the public expect of us?

“There’s been a lot of talk about the need for the white lines to be readable by automated vehicles. Is that still the case? If so, what does that mean for our maintenance schedules? Can we use the data from vehicles to inform our congestion management? Is there data we can use for asset management purposes?

“It’s understanding what we need to put into the equation and what we’re going to get back out. Particularly over the next few years, with a mixed fleet with different levels of autonomy, that’s going to present new scenarios, new risks. As a highway authority we need to be conscious of those – how they’re going to affect our operations and the safety of the travelling public.”

How did you identify which parts of the network could be hands-free blue zones?

MW: “The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) led the discussions with Ford regarding authorisation of their technology on public roads. Although we liaise closely with both, we weren’t involved in the detailed discussions with Ford, but to be clear, BlueCruise is an advanced driver assistance system, so the driver has to remain alert and able to take back control.

“Going forward, we need to move closer to organisations developing these systems to understand when they are coming to market and in what numbers. That’s part of our role as a highway authority – to keep our customers safe and to inform our traffic officers, so everyone knows what to do in the event of an incident.

“We’re reaching out to Ford, to see what data they can they share with us and to develop a more collaborative relationship. It’s very exciting times. We want people to embrace CAV technology and enjoy the benefits.

“We’re some way off self-driving vehicles, but my personal view is that they will probably be available more quickly than many people think.”

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