Andrew Brown-Allan's blog - 7 September: The rise of autonomous humans
07 September 2016
During the 'How the connected car will change the driving experience' segment I presented at the British Vehicle and Rental Leasing Association's Technical and Operational Management Forum in the summer, I extolled the virtues of advanced driver assistance systems - from lane-keeping assistance, distance-keeping cruise control, crash mitigation and pedestrian airbags to post-collision braking systems and autonomous emergency braking.
With Tesla surging ahead with its electric vehicles and Autopilot systems, Google, Audi, Volvo, Intel and other manufacturers busy developing their own systems, and Jaguar's Sixth Sense concept showing what could be done when physical monitoring of drivers is combined with safety technology, we've undeniably got an exciting and much safer future ahead.
However, until advanced driver assistance systems are standard on most vehicles, there's the risk in the meantime that society's reliance on technology is turning many drivers into autonomous humans, unable to think, act or drive for themselves, delegating safety to computers.
Just because a vehicle is fitted with autonomous emergency braking doesn't excuse anyone from driving too close to the vehicle in front and expecting their car to deal with the situation. Lane departure warning systems don't give people the right to just swing out into an adjacent lane thinking they're in some kind of bubble, in the same way that lane-keeping systems shouldn't be relied on to steer a vehicle around bends while the driver peers at their smartphone. Parking has become a lost skill, too, which is partly down to many vehicles now having parking sensors, reverse cameras and even the ability to self-park.
With 'driving at work' penalties having increased under recently revised legislation, fleets in particular have a duty to ensure that their drivers aren't relying too heavily on ADAS and losing their own driving skills as a result. After all, an at-work collision isn't defensible by saying the employee expected AEB to prevent it occurring.