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Bosch wants driverless vehicle technology in UK driving test

Autonomous car dashboard displays

Automotive technology company Bosch is calling for automated driving to be included as part of the UK driving test to help improve driver acceptance and understanding.

A recent report from Thatcham highlighted poor understanding around the levels of automation, and they recommended caution when using the word ‘autonomous’ to avoid further misunderstanding.

Bosch believes more can done to ensure the public is better informed so the UK can truly become a leader in automated driving technology.

Regulatory reforms and initiatives such as the Centre of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) are just one part of the equation. Bosch is recommending a series of initiatives including a Government led awareness campaign, as well as simple programmes such as vehicle safety awareness courses and technology experience days to introduce people to the technology and create greater confidence.

It also wants the inclusion of automated driving as part of the UK driving test. This should focus on explaining the different levels of automation, its technological capabilities and how to safely manage driver to vehicle to driver communication.

Bosch’s research has found that, despite significant progress made in the technology, two third of Brits remain sceptical of fully automated vehicles. While over half (56%) of respondents aren’t excited by the prospect of self-driving cars and a similar number (46%) don’t trust the technology behind self-driving cars.

Bosch believes this confidence gap comes largely from a lack of understanding due to confused and complicated messaging.

Arun Srinivasan, executive vice president and head of mobility solutions at Bosch UK, said: “History tells us that whenever there is a breakthrough in technology, a lot of hard work has to go into convincing the public that the benefits outweigh the risks. Our research shows we clearly have a way to go here in the UK.

“We believe that the Government and industry together must take bold action to help address this confidence gap. A nationally-led, simple and holistic approach is required, as it is only through pro-active, open and sustained engagement that we’ll see public confidence in automated driving begin to change.”

Research from Bosch found that two thirds (66%) of people believe self-driving capabilities are not attractive in a vehicle and only a third (31%) would be persuaded to buy a car because of an automated function. This scepticism risks suppressing the significant benefits that automated driving could bring to our roads and drivers, says Bosch.

Research shows that 90% of vehicle accidents are caused by human error, so greater automation in driving will have a significant positive impact on road safety, it argues.

Srinivasan, continued: “Despite the huge benefits that automation can bring to road travel, both in safety and convenience, the public isn’t yet convinced.

“The transition to highly automated driving is a gradual process, and the reality is lots of drivers are already taking advantage of early stages of automated features in their vehicles with features like AEB. This technology alone is predicted to save thousands of lives and injuries in the next ten years, so it’s clear something needs to change.”

UK drivers are already enjoying low levels of automation. For example, in 2016, 31% of new vehicles sold in this country came with automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems.

Despite this, attitudes do not appear to be changing. Previous research by Bosch found 38% of people felt a driverless car wouldn’t make them feel safer in any scenario, and 32% thought driverless technology would make driving less safe.

According to Thatcham Research, Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) alone has the potential to save around 1,100 lives and 122,860 casualties over the next 10 years. Similarly, a 2015 study by Euro NCAP and Australasian NCAP found that AEB leads to a 38% reduction in real-world rear-end crashes.

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