Completely autonomous vehicles requiring no human intervention – eradicating virtually all accidents and crashed – is the nirvana. But we are not there yet. However, compared to where AVs are positioned now, new industry statistics suggest that the new tech is gaining momentum, becoming better at driving without any interventions.
So far, AVs are not immune to accidents, and recent high-profile incidents involving on-road testing of AVs have resulted in growing consumer concern around the safety of these vehicles. Hence, in the current scenario, automakers must continue to address the full spectrum of safety considerations for AVs. This includes creating crash-test protocols tailored to unique AV designs.
Hence, a handful of automakers including Humanetics, Jaguar Land Rover, BMW, Zoox, Faurecia, and Autoliv along with others have created the Autonomous Vehicle Occupant Safety Consortium. This group of traditional automakers, startup AV companies and safety suppliers has been proactively meeting for nearly a year now.
The first commercially available Level 3 vehicles is expected to be featured in the upcoming 2019 Audi A8.
Over the coming months, the consortium is set to refine the recommended testing protocols with an eye toward releasing their first set of recommendations for comment and review by all stakeholders — including NHTSA, global safety programs known as NCAPs, other interested regulatory and advocacy groups, and the entire auto industry — through a public forum.
In accordance with its plans, the members of the consortium will design seats, safety restraints and testing devices based on the initial findings of the group’s research. It will set high-level specifications for the AV revolution.
The consortium believes that its work will result in increased public receptivity to AV’s which will in turn push for a surge in consumer demand.
“By making our findings public, we offer the automotive ecosystem the opportunity to capitalize on this exciting AV opportunity, ensuring safety testing keeps pace with product development, rather than being an after-the-fact consideration,” said Christopher O’Connor, a member of the Autonomous Vehicle Occupant Safety Consortium.
So far, AVs are not immune to accidents, and recent high-profile incidents involving on-road testing of AVs have resulted in growing consumer concern around the safety of these vehicles.
At the moment, some of the best examples of Level 2 autonomous driving tech are GM’s Cadillac Super Cruise, Nissan’s ProPilot, Tesla’s Autopilot, and Mercedes-Benz’s Distronic Plus are a few among others which that can be seen on the streets today.
In the same breath, the first commercially available Level 3 vehicles, as we know, which can take the full control under constant driver supervision, is expected to be featured in the upcoming 2019 Audi A8. However, its Traffic Jam Pilot system is yet to be approved by the concerned authorities.
Even restricted to certain areas and conditions, Level 4 autonomous vehicles will get us where we want to be. Hence a burning question that begs to be answered is that if we really need Level 5 self-driving cars. “I think we’ll reach the tipping point,” says former chief of Research and Development at General Motors, Larry Burns.
“When it’s clear that the value of the system exceeds its price. I think we’re in a five-year window where that could happen. But I don’t think Level 5 is ever gonna happen. I don’t think it has to happen. Level 4 vehicles, even restricted to certain areas and conditions will get us where we want to be. Do we really want a Level 5 vehicle driving in a snowstorm on Colorado’s Loveland Pass at night? I don’t think any vehicle should be doing that.”