Are we ready to handover to driverless technology?

A common question when it comes to autonomous technology is where does the vehicle end and the driver begin? Whether it’s in terms of liability, safety or control, AXA has been working with five government consortia to answer this question, and today is releasing its latest report as part of the VENTURER project.

The second in a series of reports into the legal and safety implications of driverless technology, Burges Salmon and AXA have accumulated the data from a the VENTURER trails to understand the implications when an autonomous vehicle has to ‘handover’ to a human driver.

The findings show that on average, a human being will need between 2 and 3 seconds to take control of a vehicle once informed it’s being handed over to them. The speed of which the vehicle is travelling affects this handover time however, with experts calling for legislators to also consider the length travelled at faster speeds during this handover period.

The research also shows following handover, participants driving styles were slower and had a marked delay in achieving normal performance when retaking control at speeds ranging from 20-50mph. With this in mind, the report calls for further testing so policymakers can better understand human performance under multiple driving conditions and scenarios when considering legislation surrounding liability during the handover period.

“The exciting part about Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) is that they open up a world of opportunity and mobility for those who may have previously struggled. At the same time, it also raises questions regarding practicalities, liability and, most importantly, safety. The latest VENTURER report investigates just one aspect of the driverless experience – the handover stage – and calls for greater understanding of how motorists will adapt to this new process.” David Williams, Technical Director, AXA UK

One of the main conclusions in the report is that while legislators need to take into consideration the handover period while determining new regulation, it’s still important to highlight the capability of drivers and avoid stifling the appeal of the technology by unfairly penalising them.

“Setting the boundaries of driver and autonomous system liability will require a detailed understanding of how users interact with technology. Defining the parameters of handover is an important step in delivering the driverless experience which people will expect.” Chris Jackson, Head of Transport Sector, Burges Salmon

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