UK firms bid to create world-first safey ratings for automated driving systems

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Partnership aims to create standardised testing and rating protocol for advanced assistance technology

UK car safety experts are working to create the world’s first consumer rating system for automated driving technology.

Thatcham Research, which helps determine crash safety ratings for the Euro NCAP programme, is working on a system to assess the capability and quality of advanced driver assistance technology that might one day help create autonomous vehicles.

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The testing organisation will work with experts from the CAM Testbed UK technology facility to develop testing and rating systems which, it says, will eventually give UK motorists and insurers clarity around the performance and safe use of automated technology.

Initially, the research will focus on automated lane keeping systems (ALKS). The technology is designed to allow the driver to relinquish full control of speed and lane position to the car in slow-moving motorway traffic.

Earlier this year, the Government said trials of ALKS-equipped vehicles could begin before the end of 2021. Previously, Thatcham’s experts had warned that the timetable was too ambitious and could lead to drivers wrongly thinking their car was equipped with “self-driving” technology.

Jonathan Hewett, Thatcham Research’s chief executive, said: “The advent of automated driving promises to bring a host of benefits spanning safety, mobility and the environment.

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“Not all automated driving systems will be made equal. Therefore, an independent consumer safety rating will drive best practice, while helping consumers to make informed choices and trust that it is safe to relinquish control.”

Thatcham Research already conducts safety testing on new cars Thatcham Research already conducts safety testing on new cars
Thatcham Research already conducts safety testing on new cars | Shutterstock

Thatcham said it hoped the rating system could eventually be adopted by organisations such as Euro NCAP as part of their safety rating for cars.

The project is being funded by the Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, and coordinated by Zenzic - a partnership of government departments, academic institutions and private companies.

Mark Cracknell, head of connected and automated mobility at Zenzic said: “It is an extremely exciting time for CAM, and the aims of this project will not only provide confidence in safety, for both consumers and insurers, but it could also place the UK as a global leader in the introduction, adoption and use of automated driving systems.”

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