Fleet News

Autonomous vehicles debated at ICFM conference

Fleet managers must be prepared for rapid change in vehicle technology, according to industry experts speaking at the Institute of Car Fleet Management (ICFM) annual conference at the Henry Ford College, Loughborough.

“How we drive cars in the next 20 years will change more than the way we have done in the past 80 years,” said Dr Nick Reed DPhil (Oxon) CPsychol principal human factors researcher, TRL Senior Academy Fellow.

Giving an over view of Google’s autonomous vehicle testing programme, which has seen its test cars cover more than 700,000 accident-free miles, keynote speaker Hugh Dickerson, senior industry head automotive at Google, said that in terms of technology, “today is the slowest day for the rest of our lives”.

The panel of experts predicted that trust in autonomous vehicles will come with greater usage.

“Technology starts in the high end product,” said Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the BVRLA. “The more experience we have in it, the more trust we have. Most of the autonomous vehicle technology is here now; the challenge is to get it in more cars.”  

Bob Holbrey, group IT director at FMG, added: “Technology is changing so fast. The readiness to accept new technology will increase with greater usage and availability.”

More than 170 members and guests attended the conference, which was hosted by Ford Motor Company and co-sponsored by FMG. Support conference partners were Enterprise Rent-A-Car, British Car Auctions and Alphabet

The sponsors’ welcome saw Phil Hollins, fleet director, Ford of Britain provide an insight into recent and forthcoming new car launches as well as technological developments such as City Stop and Perpendicular Parking, while Andrew Cope, executive chairman of FMG gave his thoughts on the digital revolution.

Guest speaker Tiff Needell, former racing driver and current co-presenter of Fifth Gear, shared anecdotes of life in F1, sports cars, and his TV work. He also presented the 2014 ICFM awards.

Newly-elected chairman of the ICFM, Paul Hollick said: “This year’s conference was the best yet and the autonomous vehicles theme proved thought-provoking for the delegates who attended.

“From the panel session to Hugh Dickerson’s keynote speech, there was much for them to take away and consider for future fleet policy.

“Our guest speaker Tiff Needell proved an entertaining draw and took pleasure in presenting the awards to trainees.

“In the past year, training has increased by around 30%. And our thanks went to our outgoing chairman Roddy Graham who has significantly helped elevate our profile over the past eight years.

“As always, the ICFM definitely delivered on its motto of raising the fleet standard.”

See the December 11 issue of Fleet News for full coverage of the ICFM conference.

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