According to StreetWise, a commuter research trial in London led by UK self-driving technology firm FiveAI, consumer confidence in autonomous driving technologies is increasing. The project’s commuter research trial phase – which is claimed to be the UK’s most advanced demonstration of autonomous driving on public roads – involved inviting members of the public to experience being driven autonomously on a busy, fixed 13-mile (21km) route in London.
The route included shared tramways, a variety of roundabouts, cyclists, pedestrians, T-junctions, signalized pedestrian crossings and a wide variety of vulnerable road users. The company says that not only did the trial require its self-driving system to be high-functioning, but also needed the development of a complex safety case.
According to the company, the safety case incorporated a complete review of its vehicle platform and automated driving system, safety driver and test engineer selection, training and compliance with the Department for Transport’s Code of Practice for automated vehicles testing, UK vehicle standards, UK driving rules and road traffic laws.
Commenting on the trial, Stan Boland, co-founder and CEO of FiveAI, said, “Building a completely new self-driving system required Five to create a cloud-based platform to help develop and test the technology. Over time, we came to realize that platforms like this would be essential to unlocking the full potential of self-driving systems and getting them in front of consumers more quickly. We’re now rolling out our platform to industry partners to help them build better self-driving systems, shorten their time-to-market, and enable the delivery of evidence-based safety arguments.”
Five says that at the conclusion of the trial, 96% of all invited participants rated their overall journey experience as positive to very positive, with 86% stating that their expectations had been exceeded. It concluded that factors driving these results included the self-driving system’s ability to keep a safe distance, perceive and maneuver safely around obstacles and hazards, drive like a human and manage roundabouts – common in Europe but almost entirely absent in the USA. Notably, participants’ trust in the diligence and professionalism of the safety driver in each vehicle also played a part in their positive views.