Final VENTURER report appeals for better consumer understanding of driverless vehicles

Burges Salmon and AXA Insurance have published the third and final VENTURER report, creating the blueprint for bringing driverless cars to the UK’s roads by 2021.

14 June 2018

After just three years, VENTURER has not only created a realistic environment where driverless simulations can be tested, but also provided suggestions for new legislation on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs). These are now part of the framework for the government’s Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill currently making its way through Parliament.

Among its conclusions, the report highlights how it is still difficult to understand how driverless technology is defined. It calls on the government and legislators to define the term ‘driverless’, particularly SAE Level 3 (Conditional Automation), which is the next stage of driverless technology and the one that has the potential to cause the most confusion for motorists.

Human driver monitors driving environment

  • Level 0
    No Automation
    Human driver controls all aspects of driving all of the time.
  • Level 1
    Driver Assistance
    Human driver is assisted with either steering or acceleration/deceleration by the driver assistance system with the expectation that the human driver will perform all remaining functions. 
  • Level 2

    Partial Automation
    Driver assistance system undertakes steering and acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment with the expectation that the human driver will perform all other driving tasks.

Automated driving system monitors driving environment

  • Level 3
    Conditional Automation
    Automated driving system undertakes all aspects of the dynamic driving task with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene.
  • Level 4
    High Automation
    Automated driving system undertakes all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene.
     
  • Level 5
    Full Automation
    Automated driving system undertakes all aspects of the dynamic driving tasks in all roadway and environmental conditions.

Currently, most vehicles on the UK roads have a maximum SAE Level of 2, however some are more capable than others. When it comes to SAE Level 3, there is even more confusion as it’s not clear what technology these vehicles will have as standard, and therefore how much responsibility lies with the vehicle itself as well as the driver.

David Williams, Technical Director, AXA UK, says: “After three years of the VENTURER project we have made leaps and bounds in terms of driverless technology and legislation. However, our final report reminds us that we must not forget the human element of CAVs. Owners need to know what the car is capable of as well as what they are legally allowed to do when behind the wheel, which is still yet to be defined.” 

The report argues further investigations also need to be made into how safety standards will change, including driving tests, MOTs, services, and driving ability. At the same time, certain motoring laws may no longer be needed in the future, while others come into effect.

Other subjects explored by the VENTURER project include how driverless vehicles should be marketed to the public, not as 'smart technology' but technology that requires a certain level of human interaction. There are also ongoing conversations regarding the handover period and how the UK’s roads will need to adapt for the continued development of CAVs.

Chris Jackson, head of the Transport sector group at Burges Salmon, says: “Legal and insurance frameworks are a key enabler for the development and deployment of market-ready CAVs. Placing user and public certainty, experience and safety at the heart of legal and insurance reforms is essential to building user trust and acceptance. It is only by continuing to demonstrate this commitment at each stage of the development process that driverless vehicles will be able to fulfil their potential to deliver safer and more efficient transport at scale.”

While the VENTURER project is now complete, both Burges Salmon and AXA will be joining the newly formed VENTURER Alliance, with more details to follow soon. Visit the AXA website to view the final report in full.

Key contact

Chris Jackson

Chris Jackson Partner

  • Head of Infrastructure
  • Procurement and State Aid
  • Transport

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