PAVE is on a mission to inform the US public about self-driving vehicles.

Letters from America: Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE)

There are many lessons America can teach us Brits about the safe introduction of driverless cars, and the vital work of Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE) is a prime example.

The US is well ahead of the UK in terms of on-road testing and there have been crashes. These high-profile incidents have dented consumer confidence and calls for greater oversight have now been met.

On 29 June 2021, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that the manufacturers and operators of vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), or higher SAE level automated driving systems, must report crashes.

Against this background, PAVE has a mission “To inform the public about automated vehicles and their potential so everyone can fully participate in shaping the future of transportation”.

Tara Andringa
Tara Andringa, Executive Director of PAVE

Executive Director of PAVE, Tara Andringa, explains: “PAVE was born at CES in Las Vegas in 2019 and unites industry, academia, non-profits and the public sector. PAVE aims to bridge the gap between the huge resources that industry is investing in AV technology, and opinion polls that show that the public is largely confused and distrustful. Our mission is to educate and engage the public.

“We don’t advocate for any particular policy. We are all about education, having a conversation and raising the level of understanding – we want to equip everyone to be part of the conversation. We started with 18 members at CES, and we’ve grown to over 80 members. There has been a lot of agreement about the need for this kind of effort, including many big industry players.”

Importantly, PAVE now has many of these big players on-board: vehicle manufacturers including Audi, Ford, Toyota and VW; AV specialists Cruise, Oxbotica and Waymo; IT and comms giants Intel and Blackberry; motoring bodies including the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA); influential campaign groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD); and charities such as The National Federation of the Blind.

Andringa continues: “Although our organisation includes very diverse members with diverse missions, we find that our efforts are more impactful if all of these groups come together.

“We like to put on demonstration events to demystify the technology and the good news is that knowledge and experience change attitudes. When we get people into AVs, they often say it is just like being in a human-driven car, and it’s almost boring. For us, that’s a success. It builds trust and understanding, which are universal concepts.

PAVE demo
PAVE AV demonstration event

“We also conduct surveys and have found a lot of confusion about the technology that’s on the road today – from people who say self-driving cars will never happen, to people who think their cars are already equipped to drive themselves.

“In particular, people confuse driver assistance with self-driving. We very much believe ADAS can improve safety, but we always emphasise that all cars for sale today require a responsible driver behind the wheel.

“Another way we have reached a lot of people is through our weekly panel discussions looking at all different aspects of AVs. These originally came about due to the pandemic, but they have gotten over 12,000 views on YouTube.

PAVE panel
PAVE panel discussion

“Recently we partnered with the State of Ohio to engage the public sector. Town and city authorities want to be ready, but they have lots of questions. We ran a workshop on how AVs work from the point of view of regulation, freight, law enforcement and linking with existing transport. The response was incredibly positive.”

For more information, including links to the panel discussions and other helpful resources, visit pavecampaign.org

Cars of the Future editor Neil Kennett talks driverless cars, driver assistance systems, The Highway Code and more.

Explore the future of motoring with Neil Kennett on the Tech Uncorked podcast

In a wide-ranging interview, our editor Neil Kennett discusses driverless cars, driver assistance systems, proposed changes to The Highway Code, robotaxis, data privacy, the trolley problem, artificial intelligence, and the Smokey and The Bandit theme song, with Dean and Sarah Gratton on the Tech Uncorked podcast.

“I’ve been a motoring journalist for 20-odd-years and I’ve become increasingly obsessed with connected and autonomous vehicles, and very dissatisfied with the majority of national media coverage,” he said.

“As I saw it, driverless cars were presented as either goodies like Kitt from Knight Rider or baddies like The Terminator, and you didn’t really get beyond that, so I launched Carsofthefuture.co.uk to explore the issues in more depth.”

Check out this scenic 40-minute journey into the future of motoring, first broadcast on 6 June 2021.

Carsofthefuture.co.uk is media partner for event boasting most senior collection of technology, AV, EV and ADAS leaders ever seen.

Carsofthefuture.co.uk is media partner for Car of the Future 2021

Carsofthefuture.co.uk has signed a media partnership agreement with Reuters Events for the two-day Car of the Future 2021 online event in June.

Intended to drive vehicle change to create a safer and more sustainable world, the event boasts the most senior collection of technology, autonomous vehicles (AV), electric vehicle (EV) and advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) leaders ever seen.

High profile speakers include: Michelle Avary, Head of Automotive and Autonomous Mobility at The World Economic Forum; Carla Gohin, Research & Innovation Senior Vice President at Stellantis; Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Cars; Sajjad Khan, Member of the Board of Management at Mercedes-Benz AG; José Muñoz, Global Chief Operating Officer at Hyundai Motor Company; and Dr Ken Washington, Chief Technology Officer at Ford Motor Company.

Carsofthefuture.co.uk founder, Neil Kennett, said: “We’re delighted to be a media partner for this exciting Reuters event which fits perfectly with our mission to chart the development of, and encourage sensible debate about, driverless cars in the UK. Full self-driving is a way off yet but as ever more advanced driver assistance systems become available, notably Automated Lane Keeping (ALK), it is vital that the public understands where we are with the technology and what it can and can’t do.”

Car of the Future 2021 will take place on 14-15 June. See reutersevents.com 

Ahead of this, Reuters Events will host a free webinar, Connectivity: Smarter and Safer Vehicles, on 24 March. Confirmed speakers include: Michelle Avary; Szabi Patay, Head of Automotive at Commsignia; Prashant Tiwari, Director of Intelligent Connected Systems at Toyota North America; and Frank Weith, Director of Connected and Mobility Services at Volkswagen Group America. Register here.

#ReutersEventsAutomotive

IPG expert says simulations can be better than real world testing.

The road to self-driving: Vehicle Certification Agency urged to accept simulation

Our Zenzic CAM Creator series continues with Elliot Hemes and Will Snyder of IPG Automotive UK.

Chartered engineer and self-proclaimed simulation evangelist, Elliot Hemes, previously worked in global product marketing at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), covering future automotive trends. Now managing director at IPG Automotive UK, he works with big-hitters including Ford and JLR to provide virtual test driving environments. Here, in discussion with IPG Automotive sales engineer Will Snyder, he explains how simulation will be vital for the shift to self-driving.

EH: “As vehicle systems become more complex and interconnected, we ensure that manufacturers can virtually test their systems in realistic traffic situations, using an approach that is quick and accurate.”

WS: “IPG Automotive started in vehicle dynamics, then advanced driver assistance (ADAS) was the next big thing, now it is autonomous vehicles (AVs). The amount of testing required to achieve true autonomy is impossible to do in the real world. I believe we will get to Level5 autonomy, but there are some big hurdles such as accounting for human drivers in other vehicles – it would be much easier if every vehicle on the road was autonomous and connected.”

EH: “We might see it first in a city environment, restricted to less than 20mph. People put up lots of reasons why full autonomy can’t happen, but a blanket statement of “it’s too hard” just isn’t good enough. You could say, for example, you can’t use the M6 Toll unless you have vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications. That would enable platooning – if one vehicle brakes, they all know about it. 99% of the time, great brakes will get you out of trolley problem scenarios.”

WS: “You cannot say AVs will never crash. The question should be: are they safer than human drivers? And the answer is yes, they definitely will be. When people talk about ADAS deskilling drivers, my response is: what skills?! It is well proven that concentration is badly affected by holding a conversion with someone else in the car, let alone fiddling with the radio or holding a hands-free phone call. We all get defensive about our driving prowess, but it needs to be recognised that the bar for driving is very low. You don’t even learn how to drive on a motorway – that’s not part of the driving test, which is one reason you get so many middle lane sitters.”

EH: “At the moment none of the major vehicle manufacturers are taking the leap to level 4/5, partly because they’re worried about litigation. Once the legislation is in place you will see truck platooning very quickly because of the enormous cost savings. It will require vehicle-to-everything (V2X) and V2V communications. The current ADAS technology is great but the systems are very digital and can have issues with poor light and bad weather. It will improve over time.”

WS: “We could even skip Level 3 as it is safer to move straight to Level4. In my opinion, the driver needs to be either active or not – expecting them to retake control in time in an emergency situation is just not realistic.”

EH: “Over the next decade you will see the gradual adoption of ADAS technologies. Adaptive cruise control (ACC) will become standard and that will avert so many crashes, particularly rear-end shunts. It doesn’t take away from the driver, it just intervenes. However, there is a concern about the performance of these systems in low light conditions – we need much more focus on the edge cases.

“OEMs engineer to perfect Euro NCAP test conditions. In the real world, what happens if the sun is low in the sky, or the pedestrian steps out more quickly? You cannot practically test these kinds of things on a track, which is why you have simulations. You can study that edge case over and over. We’ve had customers ask us to recreate exactly the same environment as the test track, including noise that’s nothing to do with the question in hand. Our advice is not to try to simulate the real world – design the simulation to study exactly the question you want to answer.

“In this way simulation can be better than the real world. Say, for example, you want to test a pedestrian Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) function in the early stage of development. You just want to know if, in the CarMaker environment, it performs the right output – applying enough braking to stop before it hits the dummy pedestrian. The next step is to put that software into an ECU. You can do all that with hardware-in-the-loop testing, improving the capability step-by-step without building a prototype vehicle or driving billions of real-world miles.

“Further still, under heavy braking, the front camera might well point to the floor, maybe the car might start to drift. You can do all that in simulation, to prove that your algorithms hold up and the car does what you think it will do.”

WS: “Another problem with running prototype vehicles on test tracks is that you spend an awful lot of time fixing thousands of other small faults before you get on with what you’re supposed to be testing. We can get all these edge cases done before you get to the test track. By using simulations you get so much more out of the valuable test track time.”

EH: “The ‘systems engineering V’ has all the theoretical stuff on the left, then hardware on the right and validation at the top. Ideally we’ll get to the stage where only validation happens in the physical world. Until the homologation and certification authorities are able to accept simulation results you can’t do enough testing to get AVs on the road. That’s why it is such a vital part of the Zenzic CAM Roadmap.”

For further info, visit ipg-automotive.com

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.