It is an encouraging step that the UK government recently published its Call for Evidence regarding Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS). The move follows similar initiatives in the EU, when the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) published its checklist of rules and recommendations for regulating vehicle autonomy.
From the insurance perspective, the industry body Insurance Europe recently said that the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) move towards regulating the flow of data to and from connected vehicles still requires many clarifications. It said that regulators still need to be more flexible in their approach to how telematics insurance products – and other connected car products – have to function.
Automated driving, and the many micro-steps and technologies necessary to make that a reality, are going to be a paradigm shift in terms of how we travel and transport goods. The current times are certainly challenging for transportation regulators, with the COVID-19 pandemic having hampered real-world testing of vehicle features in live conditions, with more of the data collection and machine learning happening in virtual simulators. It’s these edge cases of risk in real world, unpredictable driving situations – with a human driver still at the wheel – that all parties, the insurers, regulators and car makers, need to learn from the most. Meanwhile, we know that the pandemic has forced many people to revaluate their mobility patterns, especially in relation to commuting and the wider travel situation.
Although the in-vehicle technology is increasingly able to allow the driver to play less of an active role in the task of ‘driving’ the vehicle, legislation and challenges around liability need to be aligned.
This definition of ALKS places it as SAE Level 3, defined as Conditional Automation. It is an important step as SAE Level 3 automation means the vehicle can take over all driving functions under certain circumstances. With ALKS, this will relate to the less-complex highway environment (all vehicles moving in the same direction, no pedestrians, no complex intersections).
At LexisNexis Risk Solutions we believe it’s important for car drivers and users to understand the risks and the point we’ve arrived at today with advanced driver assistance technology. With our LexisNexis® Vehicle Build product, we are seeing vehicle that are equipped with a wide array of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) features. We know from our research and analysis*, a vehicle with certain combinations of ADAS features can result in a lower insurance claims frequency when compared to a vehicle without such features.
For the ALKS capability being referred to, this would rely upon sensor fusion and collaboration across a number of ‘core’ ADAS features including: Lane Assist, Driver Monitoring, Blind Spot, Forward Collision, Rear Collision and Adaptive Cruise.
We refer to these ADAS features as ‘core’ because our analysis has shown that, when fitted, they can have a material and positive impact on frequency of claims and road traffic accidents.
LexisNexis® Vehicle Build uses our comprehensive ADAS classification that reflects the current features found on vehicles. We already classify a number of ‘active’ features including autonomous steering, automatic lane changing, and overtaking features under adaptive cruise control that point toward ‘piloted driving’. We will be keeping a close eye on new and emerging technology and will be certain to include changes to reflect all upcoming ADAS feature and how they relate to our insurance customers.
At LexisNexis Risk Solutions we are going to be monitoring submissions to the ‘call for evidence’, other regulatory developments, and reviewing the responses with interest.
We are at a fascinating time in the automotive sector and wider mobility space. The technology is moving with real pace and there is no doubt that more advanced and increasingly active systems will become available and in use on the road.
It is clear however, that the final validation and edge cases are proving to be very complex. If we imagine a real world driving situation for a moment – being on a wet road with the sun low in the sky, that reflection on a bus shelter glass panel – the vehicle’s recognition systems must be able to determine in real time, is that a person or just a reflection? It is exactly these scenarios that must be learned and accounted for, together with the complex handing over of control from driver to the ‘machine’ and back again.
We have been used to ‘feet-off’ driving with cruise control, and we are approaching the ‘hands-off’ stage with Automated Lane Keeping Systems. But let’s remember to avoid ‘brain-off’ and remain attentive and in control.
* 2020 US study by LexisNexis Risk Solutions of 11 million vehicles, model years 2014 to 2019.
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