United Kingdom drivers being misled by 'autonomous' system names - research

United Kingdom drivers being misled by 'autonomous' system names - research

In April, a British driver lost his licence after being filmed on the motorway sitting in the passenger seat of his Tesla using its Autopilot system.

"We are starting to see real-life examploes of the hazardous situations that occur when motorists expect the vehicle to drive and function on its own", said Matthew Avery, head of research at Thatcham Research.

Thatcham has expressed concerns that such technology is in its infancy and, in some cases, motorists may believe it is more capable than it truly is.

"There's a problem with the manufacturers trying to introduce technology and consumers not being ready for it, not being sure if it's automated or 'Do I need to keep watching?'" says Matthew Avery, of Thatcham Research.

"Automated functions that allow the driver to do other things and let the auto do the driving will come, just not yet", said Matthew Avery, head of research at Thatcham Research.

For all the talk of a driverless future, it will be many years before a fully autonomous (level 5) auto will actually be available to the public, and the ABI has warned that drivers are still criminally liable for the safe operation of their cars.

Matthew Avery went on to add: "Automated functions that allow the driver to do other things and let the vehicle do the driving will come, just not yet".

Who's to blame when driverless cars have an accident? Some simply offer adaptive cruise control that will maintain a set gap to the auto in front on a motorway.

In particular, drivers are required to keep their hands on the wheel at all times.

The risks to United Kingdom drivers have been outlined in a new paper from the two bodies.

The organisation says misleading names such as "Autopilot" and "ProPilot" give drivers the impression their cars can drive themselves in all circumstances.

The risks to United Kingdom drivers have been outlined in the new Assisted and Automated Driving Definition and Assessment paper, which has identified risky grey areas associated with some driver support technologies. He continued: "It begins with how systems are named and described across carmaker marketing materials and the driver's handbook. Absolute clarity is needed, to help drivers understand the when and how these technologies are created to work and that they should always remain engaged in the driving task".

'Insurers are major supporters of efforts to get assisted and autonomous vehicles onto the UK's roads, ' said the ABI's director of general insurance policy, James Dalton.

In response, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: Fully self-driving cars are still a long way off, but industry is working now with regulators in the UK and at UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) level to determine what makes a vehicle fully autonomous.

Responding to the criticisms from Thatcham and the ABI, a spokesperson for Tesla said it was very clear on what its Autopilot could and could not do.

Tesla refutes Thatcham's opinion, saying its customers are generally aware of Autopilot's limitations and how to use it.

A Tesla spokeswoman said: "When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times". This is created to prevent driver misuse, and is among the strongest driver-misuse safeguards of any kind on the road today. Elements of the test include: Studying manufacturers' promotional literature to see how clearly the system capabilities are explained, analysing how drivers cope with enabling the systems, and assessing what happens when the driver is required to take back control.

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