A new survey on full and partial self-driving by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in America has found significant mistrust of automated lane changing systems, with drivers preferring to stay hands-on and initiate the manoeuvre themselves.
The IIHS – a respected non-profit educational organization dedicated to reducing deaths from motor vehicle crashes – surveyed over 1,000 drivers on questions related to partial automation between September and October 2021, with the results published in June 2022.
The headline finding was that 80% wanted to use “at least some form of lane centering” – a strong endorsement for what we Brits call automated lane keeping systems (ALKS).
Report covers ADAS & ADS
36% preferred “hands-on-wheel” lane keeping, compared to 27% for “hands-free”, with 18% having no preference between the two types, 16% not wanting to use any form of lane keeping and 4% being unsure.
If you think that shows an appreciation of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) but a mistrust of conditionally automated driving systems (ADS), the next finding appears to confirm that.
Asked about lane changing assistance (as opposed to just lane keeping), 73% said they would use some form of auto lane change. However, 45% said they’d prefer to use driver-initiated auto lane change compared to only 14% for vehicle-initiated auto lane change. 23% said they wouldn’t use either type, 13% had no preference and 5% were unsure.
What’s more, on self-driving technology, 35% said they found it “extremely appealing” while 23% said it was “not at all appealing”.
Alexandra Mueller, the IIHS survey’s primary designer, commented: “Automakers often assume that drivers want as much technology as they can get in their vehicles. But few studies have examined actual consumer opinions about partial driving automation.
“It may come as a surprise to some people, but it appears that partially automated features that require the driver’s hands to be on the wheel are actually closer to one-size-fits-all than hands-free designs.”
Another eye-catching finding was the high number of people “at least somewhat comfortable” with in-cabin driver monitoring to support such systems: 70% for steering wheel sensors, 59% for camera monitoring of driver hands and 57% for camera monitoring of driver gaze.
“The drivers who were the most comfortable with all types of driver monitoring tended to say they would feel safer knowing that the vehicle was monitoring them to ensure they were using the feature properly,” said Mueller.
“That suggests that communicating the safety rationale for monitoring may help to ease consumers’ concerns about privacy or other objections.”
For us, the study is particularly interesting in terms of the UK government’s plan to list vehicles approved under the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) Regulation as self-driving.
Further still, the acceptance of driver monitoring seems relevant to point four of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Connected and Automated Mobility’s seven expert recommended red lines: “Establish minimum standards for data sharing and handling to ensure transparency and effective governance”.
Bournemouth University has highlighted the work of Dr Kyungjoo Cha, Senior Lecturer in Product Design, in helping Hyundai and Kia to ensure that their self-driving vehicles live up to the expectations of Gen Z users – those born between 1997 and 2012.
Specialising in user experience (UX) design, and working in partnership with Hyundai Motor Company’s Holistic UX Group, Dr Cha began the “auZentic” project to understand how young people perceive their digital life and entertainment needs.
“This is a fast-moving sector, with the development of new technologies and artificial intelligence,” she said. “The automobile sector has invested a great deal in research and development for autonomous vehicles, and now Hyundai and Kia have identified the need to understand what will drive the next generation’s experience.
“Generation Z were born with the internet. Their perceptions around entertainment and digital life are different to older generations. Understanding this is crucial for designing the vehicles of the future. It will not necessarily be just about chilling out in the vehicle – we found they are passionate about advocacy and getting behind projects in their digital life.”
Ongoing self-driving partnership
Kia and Hyundai’s positive response to the initial work led to a second stage of the partnership, investigating how users will want to interact and communicate with an autonomous vehicle.
“The people we spoke to gave us many examples of the type of relationship they could have,” said Dr Cha. “Some suggested a relationship like that between a horse and its rider, we also had comparisons to a butler and their employer, or an aeroplane pilot and auto-pilot. Some also spoke about being team players with their cars.
“Different contexts will determine how people want to communicate. For example, if someone was feeling emotional or upset, they might not want to talk.”
The suggested solution is a multi-model approach offering several options for communication between car and user, which could provide safety benefits as well as better user experiences.
2019 Hyundai video
Back in 2019, in the early days of Cars of the Future, this futuristic video of Hyundai’s EV wireless charging and automated valet parking concept was one of our most popular features.
Transport Select Committee to scrutinise the development and deployment of self-driving vehicles on UK roads.
On 27 June, the Transport Select Committee announced a new inquiry into self-driving vehicles and issued a Call for Evidence.
Chaired by Huw Merriman MP, with a remit to hold Transport Ministers to account and to investigate matters of public concern, the influential cross-party group will scrutinise the development and deployment of self-driving road vehicles.
It follows confirmation that the Transport Bill announced in the recent Queen’s Speech will introduce comprehensive legislation for self-driving vehicles in the UK.
Other heavyweight issues currently before the Transport Select Committee include the integrated rail plan, the national bus strategy and road pricing.
Call for evidence on self-driving
The Call for Evidence on self-driving vehicles reads: “We are particularly interested in receiving written evidence that addresses:
Likely uses, including private cars, public transport and commercial vehicles;
Progress of research and trials in the UK and abroad;
Potential implications for infrastructure, both physical and digital;
The regulatory framework, including legal status and approval and authorisation processes;
Safety and perceptions of safety, including the relationship with other road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and conventionally driven vehicles;
The role of Government and other responsible bodies, such as National Highways and local authorities; and potential effects on patterns of car ownership, vehicle taxation and decarbonisation in the car market.”
The deadline for evidence is Monday 22 August 2022.
Law Commission issues paper on reform options for remote driving on shared roads.
On 24 June, The Law Commission published a 93-page issues paper on reform options for remote driving, inviting feedback from the public.
It notes: “Technology that enables an individual to drive a vehicle from a remote location already exists today – operating in controlled environments such as warehouses, farms and mines.” The new paper considers how the existing legal framework applies to shared roads.
Whether you see it as a bridging technology or a long-term solution, remote driving – where a person outside a vehicle uses connectivity to control it, often from many miles away – will certainly be part of the mix on the road to self-driving.
Indeed, in May, Project Encode demonstrated transfer of control across three states – manual driving, autonomous driving and teleoperation – in live vehicle tests in Oxford and London.
The issues paper press release highlights four safety challenges:
Connectivity: how can a reliable connection between the remote driver and vehicle be ensured and how can safety risks be mitigated if connectivity is lost?
Situational awareness: how can drivers remain aware of their surroundings through a screen without (for example) the “feel” of acceleration?
Keeping remote drivers alert: how can the risk of fatigue, motion sickness and distraction be overcome?
Cybersecurity: how can unauthorised takeover of vehicles be prevented?
From a law enforcement perspective, tricky questions arise from the possibility that a vehicle on British roads could be remotely driven from abroad. The Law Commission therefore invites views on whether this should be prohibited.
Remote driving terminology
Of course, for anything related to self-driving, there are questions around terminology. In addition to a good old-fashioned driver, and a user-in-charge, we could soon also have an Entity for Remote Driving Operation (ERDO) – a corporate entity rather than an individual that uses and operates vehicles rather than develops or manufactures them.
Nicholas Paines QC, Public Law Commissioner, said: “Remote driving technology is already capable of being used on our roads. We hope our issues paper can contribute to a healthy debate about the appropriate regulation of this technology and what can be done to maximise protection of road users while encouraging innovation.”
The new project – via the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and the International Vehicle Standards team at the Department for Transport (DfT) – builds on the recent three-year review of legislation to enable the deployment of automated vehicles (AVs) on British roads.
Views on remote driving can be submitted here until 2 September 2022.
The Law Commission will then draft advice for the UK Government by January 2023.
Highlights from BSI’s June 2022 self-driving white paper “Connected and automated vehicles: A review of the UK’s legislation and good practice”
Best known for its Kitemark scheme, the British Standards Institution (BSI) has published a helpful review of UK self-driving legislation and good practice.
The June 2022 white paper “Connected and automated vehicles: A review of the UK’s legislation and good practice” was written by Lucy Pegler, Partner at law firm Burges Salmon and technical co-author of the PAS 1882 standard.
The stated purpose of the publication is to assist those developing, trialling, testing and deploying CAVs in the UK. In particular, it provides guidance on the interrelationship between the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles’ Code of Practice (CCAV CoP), BSI’s own CAV Standards Programme and current legislative requirements.
The executive summary consists of a diagram explaining what’s legally binding and what’s only advised.
On the CCAV CoP, the white paper notes that: a) A driver must be present, in or out of the vehicle, who is ready, able, and willing to resume control of the vehicle; b) The vehicle must be roadworthy; and c) There must be appropriate insurance in place.
Top of the list under “aims and objectives” is increasing public confidence.
BSI CAV Standards
On the BSI CAV Standards Programme, it notes that: “BSI have developed and published a number of standards relating to CAVs with the aim of providing a set of industry standards.” These include:
PAS 1880 on the design guidelines for developing CAV control systems.
PAS 1881 on the requirements for operational safety cases.
PAS 1882 on the collection, curation, storage and sharing of information during CAV trials.
PAS 1883 on defining operational design domains (ODD).
PAS 1884 on the requirements for the use of a safety operator.
PAS 1885 on protections against cyber security threats.
Section 5 covers The Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission’s review of the legal framework for automated vehicles, plus relevant rules under the following:
The Road Traffic Act 1988
The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986
The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999
The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
The UK General Data Protection Regulation
It reiterates once again UK Government’s controversial plan “to list ALKS models as automated vehicles from 2022” and highlights the Law Commissions’ recommendation that automated vehicles must be able to record and store data necessary for incident investigation.
The conclusion concludes: “Adopting the recommended good practice in the PAS standards supports trialling organizations compliance with current legislation and may support preparation for compliance with a future automated vehicles act enshrining the Law Commissions’ recommendations.”
To request a free copy of the BSI white paper, please click here.
China’s Google, Baidu, unveils a self-driving concept car ahead of a production model in the near future
When Baidu, the company frequently referred to as “China’s Google”, unveils a self-driving concept car ahead of a nearly-ready production model it deserves our attention, so here goes…
In January 2021, Baidu announced plans to establish an electric vehicle (EV) company and formed a strategic partnership with Chinese vehicle manufacturer (VM), Geely. The result was JIDU and on 8 June 2022 the new start-up unveiled the ROBO-01 concept car, which supports “high-level autonomous driving”.
Self-driving ROBO-01 video
JIDU’s CEO, Xia Yiping, commented: “The Intelligent Car 3.0 Era is the era of robocars. The transition to this new era is marked by the shift of driving power from humans to AI, with robocars ultimately achieving self-generating progress led by AI.
“The automotive industry in the 3.0 era will see a seismic shift from a revolution in energy to a revolution in product attributes. The ultimate goal is to realize a fully driverless transportation experience.”
The robocar was unveiled at an event branded Roboday, where digital human car owner Xijiajia interacted with ROBO-01.
The futuristic look involves a robot-like body with butterfly wing doors and an adjustable rear wing, while the interior features a large integrated screen, “swan neck” headrests and a foldaway U-shaped steering wheel – thus passing our Has it got a steering wheel? test.
The self-driving capabilities are enabled by the Baidu Apollo autonomous driving system, Nvidia‘s dual Orin X chips and 31 external sensors including two LiDAR, five millimeter-level wave radar, 12 ultrasonic radar and 12 cameras.
Self-driving production model
The aforementioned production model will be “90 percent similar” to the concept, sporting its futuristic designs and the U-shaped foldaway steering wheel.
The plan is apparently to prove the model in its home market first, targeting the 25-35 age group, and then go global.
Self-driving charger robots could remove the need for dedicated EV parking spaces.
“In order for the transition from petrol or diesel to electric to be successful, the UK must be able to meet the demand and provide ample charging points for drivers,” she said.
Unfortunately, back in December, The Guardian noted that: “The government has quietly backtracked on proposals to require every shop, office or factory in England to install at least one electric car charger if they have a large car park, prompting criticism by environmental campaigners.
“The original plan required every new and existing non-residential building with parking for 20 cars or more to install a charger. However, the Department for Transport (DfT) has now revealed it will only require chargers be installed in new or refurbished commercial premises amid fears over the cost for businesses.”
The name Ziggy of course brings to mind David Bowie’s fictional alien rockstar, who, according to Wikipedia, “arrives on an Earth that is dying due to a lack of natural resources”.
Self-driving EV charger
This ZiGGY, its LA-based maker EV Safe Charge say, represents “A cost-effective EV charging solution unlike any other. ZiGGY is a robotic mobile EV charging platform that serves all parking spaces, not just a few.”
It goes on to assert that 500 million chargers could be required globally by 2040, up from fewer than six million today, representing nearly $1.6 trillion of cumulative investment in EV charging infrastructure.
This nifty robot can be contacted via an app whereby it will secure a parking spot and wait for you.
It will notify you once you’re charged before moving on to the next EV or heading back to base to recharge.
This removes the need for dedicated EV spaces and the addition of video advertising on ZiGGY’s side means there’s a bonus revenue stream as well.
All very clever, but can it play guitar?
Government pushes ahead with plan to list ALKS-equipped vehicles as self-driving.
In May, the government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) announced a new £40m funding competition to “kick-start commercial self-driving services” in the UK.
Minister for Investment, Lord Grimstone, said: “Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise people’s lives, whether it’s by helping to better connect people who rely on public transport with jobs, local shops, and vital services, or by making it easier for those who have mobility issues to order and access services conveniently.”
The launch press release went on to quote the now familiar statistics that self-driving could be worth £42bn to the UK economy by 2035, potentially creating 38,000 new skilled jobs.
ALKS and self-driving
It also contained this eye-catching line: “The first vehicles to be listed as self-driving in the UK – vehicles approved under the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) Regulation – could be available for people to purchase, lease or rent later this year.” Not everyone agrees with the approach or the timetable.
Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham, was quick to emphasise that there are currently no vehicles Type Approved for automated driving in the UK.
“We are signatories to the UN Type Approval mandate, so UK regulation will reflect the UN Type Approval requirements which come through Geneva,” he said. “Any vehicle that is Type Approved will also have to go through a GB approval process.
“It’s important to make sure, before a vehicle is added to the Secretary of State’s self-driving list, that it has been approved to be usable in the UK – that it can follow UK road laws, read UK road signs etc. The exact wording is being worked-up at the moment.
“There are a number of issues we feel are missed within the current UN regulation: 1) the ability of the vehicle to change lanes; 2) the ability of the vehicle to find safe harbour; and 3) the need for the vehicle to record data in every collision.
“However, amendments have been tabled to tackle these issues, which are likely to be signed-off in September and come in from January 2023. These include the ability to change lanes and find safe harbour, and also extend the speed range up to 81mph. These are all very sensible and meaningful additions which will improve usability.”
The picture is changing fast, but insurers aren’t yet convinced that ALKS-equipped vehicles should be described as self-driving.
Doug Jenkins, Motor Technical Risk Manager at AXA Insurance UK, said: “The government have set out the position – they want the UK to lead in this – but I am concerned that it could become confusing for the public when really autonomous vehicles come to the market.”
Indeed. Compare the headline-making Oxbotica AppliedEV – which in May became the first zero-occupancy, fully self-driving, electric vehicle to operate on public roads anywhere in Europe – with the new Mercedes S Class, BMW i7 or Volvo XC 90. They’re very different beasts.
Thanks to lead technical author Prof. Nick Reed, the recently updated BSI CAV Vocabulary features a handy new definition for self-driving: “Full function of the dynamic driving task (2.1.24), performed by the automated driving system (2.1.7) within its operational design domain (2.1.48)”.
Does ALKS meet the criteria? There are at least two big problems with the government’s current plan. First, as Jenkins alluded to, the conflation of assisted driving and self-driving risks drivers misunderstanding their car’s capabilities. That’s clearly dangerous.
Second, any approach which involves switching between a human driver and a highly automated car introduces the problematic moment of handover.
Dr Subhajit Basu, of The University of Leeds’ School of Law, has eloquently expressed the serious concerns shared by many experts.
“The main safety messages surround the extreme difficulty most drivers will encounter when an autonomous vehicle suddenly transfers the driving back to them,” he said. “Even if a driver responds quickly, they may not regain enough situational awareness to avoid an accident.”
Please note: a version of this article was first published by the Institute of the Motor Industry’s MotorPro magazine.
Since then, Mercedes-Benz has released details of the sales launch for Drive Pilot in Germany. The conditionally automated driving system can now be ordered as an optional extra for the S-Class for €5,000 and for the EQS for €7,430.
CAM APPG sets seven expert recommended red lines on UK self-driving.
Welcoming the Government’s commitment to include self-driving legislation in the Transport Bill, The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) has set out seven “expert recommended red lines”.
Legislation must act as an enabler for the rollout of CAM technology, not a blocker. To achieve this, it will require a non-prescriptive and flexible regulatory framework that allows use cases to advance and innovate.
A statutory definition of self-driving must be established to distinguish this technology from assisted driving.
Clear lines of liability, accountability and responsibility for road safety must be established, in line with the Law Commission’s recommendations.
Establish minimum standards for data sharing and handling to ensure transparency and effective governance are embedded throughout the process.
Ensure the principle of interoperability is at the heart of the framework to realise the huge potential for the UK to export such a best-in-class regulatory model internationally.
Introduce regulatory sandboxes to allow businesses to test innovative use cases in the market with real consumers.
Develop a communications toolkit to accompany future legislation so that messaging can be easily disseminated to consumers to help assuage concerns around public acceptability.
Here’s our capsule review: The opening point, “Legislation must act as an enabler for the rollout of CAM technology, not a blocker” directly addresses the delicate balancing act the Government faces – facilitating these incredible cutting-edge technologies while prioritising safety and bringing the public on-board.
Point two, we bang on endlessly about this potential pitfall – it will be vital to differentiate between assisted and automated driving.
Point three, also essential of course, and huge strides are already been made by the insurance industry in this regard.
Point four, delivering “transparency and effective governance” on data sharing might prove to be the hardest of the lot.
Point five, the UK is ahead of the game on interoperability – can we translate this into a commercial advantage?
Point six, are “regulatory sandboxes” a mechanism through which the Government can achieve the balancing act referred to in point one?
Point seven – the communications toolkit – apparently there’s a UK-based website not a million miles away with free weekly newsletters which is already on the case!
The APPG on CAM was set up with support from insurer AXA UK, law firm Burges Salmon and transport consultancy WSP. It is chaired by Ben Everitt, Conservative MP for Milton Keynes North, which makes sense given the area is one of the UK’s self-driving hotspots.
Ben Everitt MP said: “The CAM APPG was delighted to discuss how the upcoming Transport Bill can deliver the benefits of autonomous technology to local communities up and down the country.
“As we await the Government’s response to the Law Commission of England and Wales review into self- driving vehicles, and the call for evidence on the future of connected and automated mobility in the UK, the APPG will continue to advise on how we can build on the great progress made to date and ensure that the whole country is able to benefit from these innovative technologies.”
Dougie Barnett, Director of Customer Risk Management at AXA UK, said: “Self-driving technology could pave the way for safer roads, increased mobility and productivity and cleaner transport. However, alongside the legislation the Government must work with the industry to ensure there is no public confusion surrounding autonomous vehicles and place more emphasis on educating the public on how to use and interact with these vehicles safely.”
Giles Perkins, Head of Profession for Future Mobility at WSP, said: “The forthcoming Transport Bill promises to unlock the potential that autonomous mobility provides. We need to ensure the Bill acts as a catalyst to enable use cases and applications that really deliver benefits for people, communities and businesses. This must happen not only in our cities but the areas surrounding them and, importantly, rural geographies which often get overlooked.”
Lucy Pelger, Partner at Burges Salmon, said: “It’s vital that legislation is an enabler to self-driving technology. The right legislative framework will not only advance the UK’s position in the global CAM market but will importantly support in building the public’s trust and confidence in CAM technology. We look forward to the Government’s response to the Law Commissions’ recommendations.”
Likewise, we at Cars of the Future look forward to following the work of the CAM APPG in achieving these laudable aims.