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Are vehicles the true protagonist of the self-driving revolution? 

On the surface it seems so. The volume of vehicle-centric media coverage within connected and automated mobility (CAM) would certainly suggest this. However, do we need to look deeper? 

If we briefly glance over the relevant statistics, we are forced to confront the reality. The correlation between road collisions and human error is unmistakably evident, ultimately highlighting our perceptual deficiencies, or flaws, for the task of driving. Despite our best efforts, these shortcomings prevent us from creating safer roads.  

The barrier is us. Our inconsistency to predict, anticipate and react to busy and complex road networks leaves us helpless in improving safety much beyond where we are today. In other words, we’ve hit a roadblock. 

Fortunately, there is a solution. Completely transform driving as we currently know it...  

“We crave for new sensations but soon become indifferent to them. The wonders of yesterday are today common occurrences.” – Nikola Tesla

Are vehicles the true protagonist of the self-driving revolution? 

During recent years there has been increased focus, investment and development in self-driving technologies, products and services. This demonstrates the collective belief in collaboration by industry, academia and government to accelerate the self-driving revolution. We can remove the human barrier of inconsistency, but only once employing these technologies, products and services – thus unlocking the benefits that will lead us to a safer, integrated and more efficient society. 

Developments in Automated Driving Systems (ADS) provide a new solution for driving. We can now utilise the technology available to us to create new solutions that previously surpassed our knowledge capabilities – combining cutting edge advancements in sensor and perception technologies, with advanced decision-making capabilities. The result? Creating a driving sophistication never seen before; one well beyond our own human shortcomings.

 

Human Machine Interface (HMI)

During the transition period as vehicles become highly automated, mechanisms for re-establishing human control between automated driving sections will be necessary. Relevant driver awareness sensors alongside data displays will likely act as the channel for transitioning between automated and non-automated driving as these technologies develop.

 

Advanced features + Ergonomics and Design

The gradual transition of responsibility will lead to an inevitable shift in the associated passenger experience. In eventually rendering pedals, steering wheels and gear sticks redundant, the passenger environment will evolve for different purposes. 

Although much conversation is centred around productivity benefits, the relinquished driving responsibility gives opportunity for service providers to enhance the experience for their passengers. Enabled by the maturing communications networks, this could enable a variety of streaming and other high-bandwidth data services, although there are a myriad of possible new business models that could emerge. 

 

Connectivity 

Through various communications techniques, complimentary benefits of connectivity can be realised throughout a vehicle fleet. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technologies allow information exchange across the wider transport network. This information can be utilised in improving the safety, efficiency and energy savings across the entirety of the transport system.

 

Conclusion                   

The predictions for upcoming vehicle transformation are best understood when acknowledging the fundamental problem of driving itself – human error. Only by analysing this can we understand the solution brought by the increased automation of vehicles.

These vehicles will enable drastic reduction in road collisions, increasingly more intelligent network management, as well as a wide variety of end user services and business models. 

Through the Zenzic-led UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030, we see the future of vehicular development and deployment as a fundamental component in achieving our vision. 

However, to realise the broadest set of benefits to society, vehicles can’t be considered in isolation. They are part of a bigger CAM ecosystem that cuts across a variety of traditional industries. 

By considering the interrelations between the legislation, insurance, investment, highways, infrastructure, mobility-as-a-service and freight/logistics services industries, among many others, we are able to draw a clearer direction towards a safer, more efficient and inclusive connected and self-driving future.