Grey Area Between “Assisted” & “Automated” Driving Systems A Concern For UK Insurers

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Progress, change, transition, well-being — from plastic to automation, the world keeps evolving, shifting through good and bad choices, including some grey areas. Remember when you took glass milk bottles and glass coke bottles back to a store for 5 cents. No one had to call it green in those days. It just made sense. Maybe you don’t remember. Now we call ourselves green because we are trying to make the plastic waste in our oceans go away and stop killing life on multidimensional levels. Not all changes are plastic or negative, though. A positive advance of modern time is the integration of autonomous features on the road (and not just the old-school variety).

Once perfected, self-driving cars will save lives. However, a grey area exists between assisted & automated driving systems, and it is a point of concern for many in the field.

Fleet News reports that, without proficient understanding, a short-term increase in collisions might be possible. Technology takes us to a safer tomorrow, but on the road there, there may be areas of concern. British insurers have taken note of the potential dangers of  “autonomous ambiguity” — vehicles with different levels of autonomy, or driverless technology, rushing the market. The automated driving capabilities of one model may not be of the same quality as the “same capabilities” of another model. Furthermore, from the marketing and some simple assumptions, you may think your car is much more capable than it is — be careful!

“With important and wide-reaching changes being defined by international regulators on what Assisted and Automated systems can and can’t do, the Automated Driving Insurer Group (ADIG), led by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in collaboration with Thatcham Research, has released a white paper (PDF) setting out the latest position of UK insurers,” Fleet News writes.

“The ‘Regulating Automated Driving’ paper is set to reveal that UK insurers, including AXA, Admiral, Ageas, Allianz, Aviva, Co-operative Insurance, Covea, Direct Line Group, esure, LV, RSA, Zurich and the Lloyd’s Market, strongly support vehicle automation in the firm belief that it will deliver a significant reduction in accidents.”

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

A clear distinction between Assisted and Automated systems should be made by international regulators, according to the report authors. 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;
  • A vehicle encounters a situation it can’t handle, that it has the ability to come to a safe stop;
  • 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.

Shaw continues, “Vehicle Manufacturers should be judicious in badging and marketing such systems, avoiding terms which could be misinterpreted as denoting full autonomy. Hybrid systems which creep into the intermediate grey area between Assisted and Automated should also be avoided.” That’s an interesting point, but it seems like it would be hard to determine if a technology is something in between Assisted and Automated.

David Williams, ADIG Chairman and Head of Underwriting at AXA, said: “Autonomous vehicles will make our roads much safer, but inappropriate use or marketing of intermediate technology could confuse road users and cause unnecessary accidents. Clarity over system capability and commitment to share vehicle data with insurers will help public confidence, and help rather than hinder development in this area.”

Good Autonomous driving features are here to stay. Drivers want them. What are the other features EV drivers demand?

Related story: Volvo Trucks New VNL Semi Trucks Feature Numerous Self-Driving & Safety Features

Images: Screenshots from Regulating Automated Driving Report

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Cynthia Shahan

Cynthia Shahan, started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. Words can be used improperly depending on the culture you are in. (Several unrelated publications) She has a degree in Education, Anthropology, Creative Writing, and was tutored in Art as a young child thanks to her father the Doctor. Pronouns: She/Her

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