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Call for consistent standards to avoid ‘autonomous ambiguity’

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Clear distinction between ‘assisted’ and ‘automated’ driving systems should be made by international regulators considering design standards for vehicles with different levels of autonomy, insurers have warned.

The Automated Driving Insurer Group, led by the Association of British Insurers in collaboration with Thatcham Research, has highlighted concerns about driver confusion caused by so called ‘intermediate’ automated systems.

Such systems offer significant self driving capability but require the user to take back control of the vehicle in certain circumstances, its new white paper titled Regulating Automated Driving highlights.

“Vehicles with intermediate systems that offer assisted driving still require immediate driver intervention if the car cannot deal with a situation,” commented Thatcham Research CEO Peter Shaw.

“Systems like these are fast emerging and unless clearly regulated, could convince drivers that their car is more capable than it actually is. This risk of autonomous ambiguity could result in a short term increase in crashes.”

As a result the white paper suggests that a vehicle should be clearly identified and marketed as ‘automated’ only when:

  • The driver can safely disengage in the knowledge that the car has sufficient capabilities to deal with virtually all situations on the road;
  • It has the ability to come to a safe stop if it encounters a situation it can not handle;
  • The autonomous system can avoid all conceivable crash types and can continue to function adequately in the event of a partial system failure;
  • Both insurers and vehicle manufacturers can immediately access data to identify whether the driver or vehicle is liable in the case of an accident, without ambiguity.

“Consistent standards are needed so that those taking up automated driving technology can do so with confidence,” added ABI director of general insurance policy James Dalton.

Meanwhile developers of connected vehicle systems will have to toughen up cyber protections and take steps to design out hacking under new guidance issued this week by the Government.

‘Smart’ vehicles are increasingly becoming the norm on British roads, the guidance highlights. But it is feared that would be hackers could target these internet connected vehicles to access personal data, steal cars that use keyless entry, or even take control of technology for malicious reasons.

To view the guidance visit: www.gov.uk/government/publications/principles-of-cyber-security-for-connected-and-automated-vehicles

Photo: Pictures of Money / Creative Commons