DfT and CCAV publish two new reports on self-driving public engagement

Not 1 but 2 DfT reports on The Great Self-Driving Exploration

In summer 2023, The Department for Transport (DfT) and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) published two new reports on The Great Self-Driving Exploration.

Last year, in partnership with Thinks Insight & Strategy, University College London (UCL) and Aurrigo, they held a series of large-scale public engagement events in areas of the country where there had previously been little or no engagement with self-driving vehicles.

The aim was to study public perceptions towards, and effective communication about, self-driving. We ran a story at the time on The Great Self-Driving Exploration in Taunton.

DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report - citizen view of self-driving technology, 2023
DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report – citizen view of self-driving technology, 2023

Self-driving citizen view

The first report, “A citizen view of self-driving technology in future transport systems”, largely analysed the responses from a “high exposure audience” of 177 participants, who took part in a three-week programme of “deliberative engagement”, including pre- and post-ride surveys.

Further feedback came from “medium exposure” and “low exposure” audiences, of 450 and 250 participants respectively.

In workshops, the high exposure participants were shown educational videos on various aspects of self-driving. They featured, among others, Rebecca Posner of CCAV, Camilla Fowler of Oxbotica (now Oxa), Siddartha Khastgir of WMG, Jessica Uguccioni of the Law Commission, Dr Nick Reed of Reed Mobility, Brian Matthews of Milton Keynes Council, Steve Gooding of the RAC Foundation, Tom Cohen of the University of Westminster, David Sharp of Ocado, Martin Griffiths of Stagecoach Group, Colin Robertson of Alexander Dennis, Jim Hutchinson of Fusion Processing, and Waymo – familiar names to regular Cars of the Future readers.

The participants were then asked to design an advert to describe self-driving vehicles (SDVs) to the public. As an aside, being pedants, we note a battle with software-defined vehicles for the SDV acronym. Anyway…

The report found: “Given the generally positive attitude towards SDVs [self-driving vehicles], the information campaigns and adverts designed by participants overwhelmingly focused on communicating the potential benefits of introducing SDVs rather than any of their concerns.

“Broadly speaking, to effectively improve awareness of SDVs it was seen as necessary to communicate their advantages over and above traditional human-driven vehicles.

“Using information campaigns and adverts to normalise the concept of SDVs, either as privately owned vehicles or as part of shared or public transport provision, was considered important.”

Familiarity with self-driving increased significantly among the high exposure participants, with 68% saying they knew ‘a fair amount’ by the end of the research, compared to just 11% at the outset.

In particular, these participants felt they had a better understanding of the ‘rules’ for using self-driving vehicles. However, there were still areas of potential confusion, such as what level of autonomy is currently legal on UK roads.

DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report - wordcloud
DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report – wordcloud

In a welcome repeat of the PAVE findings in America – “we like to put on demonstration events to demystify the technology and the good news is that knowledge and experience change attitudes”- participant ‘comfort’ increased during The Great Self-Driving Exploration process, both in terms of using self-driving vehicles and sharing roads with them.

As to how best to communicate with the public, the research concluded that the top five key themes are:

  1. Safety – both improved road safety and reassurance on self-driving vehicle safety.
  2. Reliability and security – especially the balancing of AI technology and human backup.
  3. Accessibility – promoting mobility for all.
  4. Shared – improved public transport and the environmental benefits of fewer private car journeys.
  5. Costs – being cheaper than the existing options is a powerful message.

Self-driving emotional responses

DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report - Understanding emotional responses to self-driving, 2023
DfT Great Self-Driving Exploration report – Understanding emotional responses to self-driving, 2023

The second, more technical, report, “Understanding emotional responses to self-driving vehicles: Findings from the EEG study”, measured excitement and stress using an electrophysiological process to record participants’ brain activity. The headlines were…

On “medium to high levels of Engagement, Excitement and Interest”, that participants “have a degree of affinity with the task and tended to have more positive emotional responses to the technology.”

On “lower scores for Focus, Stress and Relaxation”, that participants “were relatively comfortable with the experience despite its novelty”.

And “as participants become more familiar with the technology the more immediate and emotional reactions, both positive or negative subside”.

Interestingly, males tended to show higher levels of ‘Excitement’ than females when on the shuttle, while the opposite was seen for the pod.

The report concluded: “These differences will have implications on both engineering and policy choices to help mitigate certain emotional states if self-driving vehicles become more widespread. The changes in emotional state observed throughout a journey also suggest the value of providing members of the public with the opportunity to trial the technology.”

Together, these two reports provide important insights into the expectations of the UK public in relation to self-driving – a valuable contribution to this fast-growing ecosystem.

43 British companies win CCAV funding for self-driving supply chain projects.

Self-driving gets healthy slice of new £50m funding for cutting edge UK manufacturing

On 4 September 2023, the UK government announced the recipients of £50m in funding “to cement the UK as the best location in the world to manufacture”. The winners included several major self-driving projects.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, said: “From farm tractors fuelled by hydrogen to rapid-charge first responder motorcycles, these projects receiving funding today show we are not short of innovators in this country.

“By supporting growth in the industries of the future, including through better regulation, we are delivering on our plan to get the economy growing and make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.”

Self-driving winners

In addition to 12 mainly clean fuel-related projects to be funded via the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) announced £18.5m in joint government and industry funding for 13 new self-driving projects.

Designed to address critical technology gaps, enhance safety and security, improve performance and reliability, and create scalable opportunities both domestically and globally, these connected and automated mobility (CAM) supply chain projects will be delivered in partnership with Zenzic and Innovate UK.

The winning projects are, in alphabetical order:

·       AIM-DBW

·       Autonomous Cargo

·       CERTUS

·       DeepSafe

·       DriveSafeAI

·       Driven By Sound

·       evolvAD

·       High-Performance Imaging Radar (HPIR)

·       Photonic Inertial Sensors for Automotive (PISA)

·       Sim4CAMSens

·       StreetCAV

·       Systems for Autonomy in Fail Operational Environments (SAFE)

·       Torque Overlay Automated Steering Technology (TOAST)

Decarbonisation and Technology Minister, Jesse Norman MP, commented: “Self-driving vehicles have the potential to transform how we get around, making journeys safer, more convenient and more accessible while also creating skilled jobs. These grant winners underline how the UK is at the cutting edge in developing automated technologies that are not only innovative but have safety at their heart.”

Meanwhile, Minister for Industry and Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani MP, visited Wayve, one of the 43 British companies involved, yesterday (5 September). “The automotive industry will go through a self-drive revolution = huge economic growth & new jobs,” she said on Twitter (X). “We are supporting AI tech firms in leading the way.”

The headline facts and figures for each winning project are as follows:

AIM-DBW – lead partner Aim Technologies, with TRL – to deliver a universal drive-by-wire system to enable the automation of throttle, steering, braking and gears. Grant: £400,000.

Autonomous Cargo – lead partner Aurrigo, with UPS – to create a self-driving 7.5 tonne dolly for airside cargo movements, along with a simulation tool. Grant: £480,000.

Certus – lead partners Horiba Mira, with Coventry University, Connected Places Catapult, Polestar Automotive UK, and IPG Automotive UK – to provide a verification and validation (V&V) test requirements toolset for an automated driving system (ADS). Grant: £1.5m.

DeepSafe – lead partner Drisk.ai, with Imperial College London, Claytex Services, DG Cities, and rFpro – to support the V&V of ADSs through industry-critical data and a next-generation simulation toolchain. Grant: £2m.

DriveSafeAI – lead partner Wayve Technologies, with University of Warwick – to develop a safety assurance framework for the safe deployment of AI in self-driving technology across all driving domains. Grant: £1.9m

Driven By Sound – lead partner Calyo, with Baro Vehicles – is a collaborative initiative to create a robust navigation system for automated vehicles, with a particular emphasis on adverse weather handling. Grant: £910,000.

evolvAD – lead partner Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK, with TRL, Humanising Autonomy, Connected Places Catapult, and SBD Automotive – to develop an AV capable of safely driving in residential, urban and rural environments. Grant: £2.3m.

High-Performance Imaging Radar (HPIR) – lead partner Aptcore, with Garfield Microelectronics, Plextek Services, and Cambridge Sensoriis – aims to develop a high-performance imaging radar specifically for AVs. Grant: £1.8m.

Photonic Inertial Sensors for Automotive (PISA) – lead partner Zero Point Motion, with WAE Technologies, University of the West of England, and the Royal Institute of Navigation – to leverage Micro Electromechanical Systems (MEMS), Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs), and low-cost laser/detectors to develop advanced position and navigation sensors. Grant: £1.4m.

Sim4CAMSens – lead partner Claytex Services, with University of Warwick, National Physical Laboratory, Syselek (UK), Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, rFpro, Oxford RF Solutions, and Techworkshub – to enable accurate representation of ADS sensors in simulation. Grant: £2m.

StreetCAV – lead partner Smart City Consultancy, with Dell Corporation, Milton Keynes Borough Council, and Ohmio UK – will create a ‘plug-and-play’ roadside connectivity solution for self-driving shuttles, robots and drone-based services. Grant: £1.8m.

Systems for Autonomy in Fail Operational Environments (SAFE) – lead partner Streetdrone, with Alcon Components, University Of Surrey, and Chassis Autonomy – will develop a fail operational drive-by-wire technology platform to enable safe SAE Level 4 autonomy. Grant: £1.2m.

Torque Overlay Automated Steering Technology (TOAST) – lead partners Titan Motorsport & Automotive Engineering, with Alexander Dennis, and TRL – will develop a modular dual redundant steer-by-wire system for heavily automated and electric vehicles. Grant: £760,000.

Quick on the draw with a press release, Alex Kendall, CEO of Wayve, said: “Leveraging AI, we have the chance to bring the benefits of self-driving vehicles to everyone’s door. But first, securing trust in AI is paramount. DriveSafeAI will give the public and policymakers confidence in this technology, which has the potential to revolutionise transport.”

Wayve self-driving car, 2023
Wayve self-driving car, 2023

Professor Siddartha Khastgir, Head of Verification & Validation at WMG, added: “AI and particularly embodied AIs like self-driving vehicles is one of the biggest disruptors for society. Deploying this technology safely is essential.”

Congratulations to all, particularly TOAST for the best acronym, and we will follow all of these exciting projects with great interest.

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 www.reva2.eu

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 Carsofthefuture.co.uk/awards/ #SDIA23

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 Leadwithsustainability.co.uk

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 Zenzic.io

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.

Tom Leggett of Thatcham Research did an epic round of media interviews to explain what BlueCruise is – assisted driving – and isn’t – self-driving.

Not self-driving: Thatcham media marathon to clear up BlueCruise capability confusion

Few were expecting it, but 13 April 2023 will go down in British motoring history. It was the day Ford announced that the Department for Transport (DfT) had approved the use of its BlueCruise assisted driving system on parts of the UK motorway network, making hands-free legal for the first time.

Initially, only a select few gained the ability to go ‘hands off, eyes on’ – drivers of 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E cars who activate a subscription. Even then, use is restricted to 2,300 miles of pre-mapped motorways in England, Scotland and Wales – the new ‘Blue Zones’. Be in no doubt though, this is momentous.

One foot in the future

“It’s not every day you can say you’ve placed one foot in the future,” said Martin Sander, General Manager at Ford in Europe. “BlueCruise becoming the first hands-free driving system of its kind to receive approval for use in a European country is a significant step forward for our industry.”

UK Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, agreed: “I am delighted that this country is once more at the forefront of innovation. The latest advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) make driving smoother and easier, but they can also help make roads safer by reducing scope for driver error.”

One of the main themes at the recent Zenzic Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) Innovators event was the need to do more to establish the UK as a global leader. This embracing of hands-free will be noted around the world.

Ford describes BlueCruise as Level 2 driver assistance, with Lisa Brankin, managing director of Ford in Britain, telling the BBC’s Today programme that, in the case of an accident, the driver will still be responsible as the technology is “not autonomous driving”.

Ford BlueCruise graphic, 2023
Ford BlueCruise graphic, 2023

BlueCruise combines intelligent adaptive cruise control and lane-centering with an in-cabin camera monitoring eye gaze and head position. If necessary, alerts in the instrument cluster and audible chimes will prompt the driver to return their eyes to the road.

Assisted not self-driving

Unfortunately, and rather predictably, much of the UK media again confused assisted driving and self-driving. The Guardian went with “First hands-free self-driving system approved for British motorways”, The Sun with “Huge car firm is launching the UK’s first-approved self-driving technology”.

Huge credit to Tom Leggett, vehicle technology specialist at Thatcham Research, for doing a marathon round of media interviews to explain what BlueCruise is – assisted driving– and what it isn’t – driverless or self-driving.

“The sudden introduction of this technology did catch the industry a little off-guard, as it was not anticipated that it would reach UK roads for another 18-months or maybe even two years,” he said.

“It has been approved by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) under Article 39 for a new and innovative technology, albeit based on current technology. Basically, the VCA were convinced by evidence from Ford, and their own on-track and on-road testing, that BlueCruise is as safe as, and not fundamentally different to, existing assisted driving technologies.

“The key point to emphasise is that it is assisted driving. What makes it slightly different is that it permits the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel. However, the driver is always responsible for driving. Any input from the driver, such as braking or changing lane, and the system will essentially turn off.

“The hope is that the driver monitoring will make it even safer. It is a camera system which looks at the driver’s direction of gaze to ensure they’re concentrating on the road, not looking out of the window or checking their phone.

“At Thatcham Research, we believe direct driver monitoring will have a significant role in addressing drowsiness and distraction. Currently in the UK, about 25% of all accidents involve some sort of distraction.

“It is vital that drivers using BlueCruise are aware of their responsibilities, and we’ll also be very interested to understand how they feel about using it.”

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

Related story: Barrister Alex Glassbrook says approval of hands-free driving is a radical development in UK motoring, and should be accompanied by effective official guidance, training and information to the public and affected organisations.

Dr Daniel Ruiz on self-driving, the internet of transport and more.

Rough seas make stronger sailors: Former Zenzic CEO Ruiz on navigating peak self-driving hype

Non-executive director at the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), and reviewer of major projects for the Cabinet Office, Oxbridge engineering graduate Dr Daniel Ruiz has had a stellar 40-year career in public transport.

He was previously head of real-time operations at Transport for London (TfL), notably set up the Transport Coordination Centre for the 2012 Olympics, founded the Transport Technology Forum (TTF), and was head of Zenzic, tasked with accelerating self-driving in the UK.

We started by asking him about the hype surrounding self-driving cars…

DR: “Hype can be the enemy of progress. I think in connected and autonomous mobility (CAM), it’s certainly the case that hype held things back. People became interested in just driverless cars, and that narrow interest resulted in a focus on the wrong things – not the best outcomes for society, the economy or the environment.

“Robotaxis have long been the sex symbol of the autonomous vehicle parc, but they’re not necessarily going to make the biggest, or soonest, impact. There’s an emerging realisation that there are greater opportunities in autonomous freight.

“This is partly because freight doesn’t complain about how fast it goes around corners. It’s also because of the many off-highway opportunities for freight movements. This enables you to prove safety and efficacy.”

How do self-driving cars fit into the future of transport?

DR: “You can easily conclude that driverless technology is expensive, therefore it will only be for multimillionaires. The reality is that much of the technology has been proven on buses and low speed shuttles – public transport services. These are going to proliferate much faster than private autonomous vehicles, not least because the regulations still need to be established.

“The driverless car that sits in your own garage is a bit of a distraction because it reflects the current transport paradigm – take one thing out, a driven car, and put something else in, a driverless car. It implies that everything else remains the same.

“We need to be thinking in more dimensions about what we want in terms of mobility. To deliver the ultimate transport system you need to satisfy the collective requirements of society. There’s not enough looking forwards, then working back.

“Michael Hurwitz, formally Director of Transport Innovation at TfL, often draws attention to the fact that, until recently, there were very few modes of transport. Now there’s electric scooters and bikes, hire schemes, ride sharing and more.

“We need to put less emphasis on the mode and think more in terms of getting from A to B in the most efficient and comfortable way. Maybe you’d be happy to walk to a scooter station, get that to the train, then pick up a cab. It’s the dwell times that inject frustration and inefficiency; that lead many to say: “It’s too complicated, I’m going to jump in the car”.

“Autonomous vehicles are part of the equation, but the C in CAM, ‘connectivity’, is also vital. The Internet of Transport (IoT) is probably the most important thing to be considering right now. How do we make sure that data and knowledge are flowing safely, securely, anonymously? Then there’s the financial side – how do you charge for stuff?

“At one point the UK was ahead of the game, certainly amongst the front runners. It isn’t as obvious that we are today, but the prize is still there. Legislation is the blocker. We haven’t moved on from the 2018 Automated and Electric Vehicles Act, although the excellent Law Commission review has recently pointed the way.”

Finally, tell us about your new job at the ORR…

DR: “The ORR is the independent regulator for Britain’s railways, and also monitors the performance of the Strategic Road Network. It has proven itself to be one of the better regulators, trusted to do a job in everyone’s best interest, and this is a very exciting time for both rail and road.

“The ORR has an obvious focus on safety and value of money, but to do this we’re increasingly involved with data – how intelligence can be brought to bear on improving the flow of traffic and the movement of people and goods.”

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