Can Driver Assist Technology Increase Accidents

Levels of Automation

As the race continues for a fully autonomous car Thatcham push back.  A fully autonomous vehicle needs zero human interaction and is level 5  on Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) scale of zero to five. Whilst fully autonomous cars will most likely result in lower fleet car insurance, the savings may be offset by the cost to purchase such a high tech car.

The levels below can be viewed as stepping stones to reach this goal. Level 0 is where we started with no driver assist tools to warn drivers for example if they are leaving their driving lane.

Thathcam claim that these driver tools led by steps in both technology and artificial learning can cause the driver to switch off or become disengaged. The point is that until level 5 is reached the driver must always be ready to step in and override the system. However, as trust in the technology increases the human driver may believe it is safe to switch off. However, these self-driving cars are still far from perfect and infact the AI part is still learning.

Colin Grover

principle engineer

“What we see with increasing levels of technology is drivers tend to be distracted and start engaging with other activities,”

How will we know that we have reached level 5 and AI Learning stops

The idea behind driverless cars is that it will make the roads much safer with next to zero accidents. An autonomous system that is just a few percent safer than the human driver will never be accepted. These driverless cars must be close to perfect. This is the dilemma until they reach this goal the driverless car will always need a human to stand by.

The drivers of fleet cars are experienced and can use human insights or intuition to predict possible actions of other drivers and take action to mitigate or avoid the accident. Think about how hard that will to achieve by an artificial intelligence

One solution offered is letting the driver designate parts of the route that are fully autonomous. These would be easy driving times, for example motorway driving. During these times the driver can safely disengage. However, stages of a route that are more tricky the driver would be alert and on stand by.   

Take steps now to lower multi car insurance 

As the race continues towards the level 5 car others steps to reduce fleet insurance costs  are available and actionable.