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Auto Safety – A Dickensian Tale

Auto Safety – A Dickensian Tale
by Roger C. Lanctot on 03-27-2022 at 10:00 am

Auto Safety – A Dickensian Tale

As I prepare to join the International Telecommunications Union’s Future Networked Car Symposium – today through Friday – I am reminded of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” and its unforgettable opening paragraph – modified for a modern context here:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of self-driving cars, it was the age of Tesla Autopilot, it was the epoch of safety system mandates, it was the epoch of consumer confusion, it was the season of LiDAR, it was the season of false positives, it was the spring of vision zero, it was the winter of escalating highway fatalities, we had solved all challenges, we had achieved nothing, we were all going to relinquish individual car ownership, we were all fleeing public transportation.

As the four-day International Telecommunications Union’s Future Networked Car Symposium kicks off this morning the transportation industry stands at the fulcrum of a transformation that promises to save lives and rejuvenate economies. Or maybe its just a mirage.

New automotive safety systems offer the promise of collision avoidance and self-driving technology suggests the possibility of driverless transport – but these opportunities appear to be farther away the faster we approach them. In spite of the widespread deployment of new sensors and systems in cars, highway fatalities continue to rise and insurance companies have yet to prepare a path toward less expensive insurance for consumers that buy cars with more safety enhancements.

LexisNexis research tells us that the wider deployment of so-called advanced driver assist systems has, in fact, reduced the number and expense of claims. Yet those results have failed to manifest in measurably lower insurance rates.

Some observers point to data showing the declining number of claims, but note the higher cost of repairing (and recalibrating) cars with sophisticated safety systems. LexisNexis itself points to the confusion of ADAS naming conventions – lane keeping, lane departure warning, etc. – that has complicated marketing messages and consumer facing educational campaigns.

A recently published report from Strategy Analytics highlights the challenges faced by automotive engineers in bringing safety and self-driving systems to market. Titled “Human Performance Properties in Automated Driving,” the report points to a range of issues and previously published research addressing topics including “trust,” “mode confusion,” “motion sickness,” “situational awareness,” “workload,” and “emotional response.”

“Human Performance in Assisted and Automated Driving” – file:///C:/Users/rlanctot/Downloads/Strategy_Analytics_Human_Performance_in_Assisted_&_Automated_Driving%20(1).pdf – Strategy Analytics

The report concludes: “Regarding the development of objective methods and thresholds, it is worth highlighting the unique work that the AVT Consortium is carrying out using real-world driver behavior data to assist OEMs, policy makers and other stakeholders to understand what is acceptable in the operation of assisted and automated driving features, and when drivers may be drifting towards unsafe conditions.”

The report very much captures my own personal experiences with semi-automated driving. Now that I drive a BMW equipped with lane keeping technology I am experiencing all of the issues described by the report’s author.

The lane keeping in my BMW is sufficiently aggressive – practically ripping the steering wheel out of my hands if I attempt a lane change without signaling – that it generates an immediate emotional response and undermines my trust. At the same time, the user interface on the start-stop system is sufficiently confusing that I am never sure whether it is on or off – until it actually engages.

I know I am not alone and I know we won’t see broader consumer adoption of active safety system technology until we, as an industry, master the engagement with the consumer – be that with better research techniques or educational outreach. These and other topics will be discussed as part of the ITU’s Future Networked Car Symposium. You can register here:

The four three-hour sessions are as follows (beginning today):

March 22, 2022

Opening + Session 1: Government Authorities’ Coordination for Automated Driving and Their Intelligent Transport

13:00-16:00 CET, Geneva


March 23, 2022

Session 2: Artificial General Intelligence Applied to Vehicle Safety, Services, and Transport Management: Current Status and Future Directions

13:00-16:00 CET, Geneva


March 24, 2022

Session 3: Automated Driving Systems for Consumer and Other Vehicles (Trucks, Delivery, Shuttles, Robotaxis, etc.)

13:00-16:00 CET, Geneva

March 25, 2022

Session 4: Wireless Communications Applied to Vehicle Safety Services, and Transport Management – Current Status and Future Directions

13:00-16:00 CET, Geneva

Also read:

No Traffic at the Crossroads

GM’s Super Duper Cruise

Emergency Response Getting Sexy

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