There are still huge concerns over the safety of autonomous vehicles after recent tests by the American Automobile Association (AAA) resulted in a dummy cyclist being hit at a four-way junction time and time again.
The tests were performed on a closed course using a 2021 Subaru Forester that features ‘Eyesight’ driving assistance technology.
The Subaru failed to provide any detection alert or initiate any braking in response to the cyclist on the crossing.
The AAA stated: “For a cyclist crossing the travel lane of the test vehicle, a collision occurred for 5 out of 15 test runs, or 33 percent of the time.”
A Subaru spokesman said the manufacturer had improved its EyeSight system for the 2022 model year.
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Only last month the UK Government unveiled new Highway code rules that stated: “Automated vehicles no longer require the driver to pay attention to the vehicle or the road when in automated mode, except to resume control in response to a transition demand in a timely manner.”
It means that in the future drivers will be able to do other activities like watching television while on the road.
The tests in the USA were on Advanced driver-assistance systems—or ADAs – electronic technologies that assist drivers in driving and parking functions.
AAA’s director of automotive engineering Greg Brannon told Forbes: “Our testing demonstrates spotty performance is the norm rather than the exception [for ADAs].”
Although the Subaru struggled with the cyclist, the dummy was spotted by a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe with “Highway Driving Assist” and a 2020 Tesla Model 3 equipped with “Autopilot.”
Worryingly, the AAA’s testing found that a head-on collision occurred during all 15 test runs for an oncoming motor vehicle within the travel lane.
The dummy cyclist used was the official Euro NCAP cyclist, representing an average European adult male on a standard bike.
The AAA recognised that ADA systems “continue to improve” but that they are “not capable of sustained vehicle operation without constant driver supervision” and therefore that the driver “maintain situational awareness at all times.”
Although there are currently no vehicles approved to fully self-drive on Britain’s roads, the first could be given the go-ahead later this year.
But the update to the Code will make it clear that motorists must be ready to take back control of vehicles when needed.
The Department for Transport also intends to allow drivers to watch films on built-in screens while using self-driving cars.
But it will still be illegal to use a phone behind the wheel, as per the sweeping changes to mobile use introduced in the UK last month, which now sees drivers fined £200 just for touching a device while behind the wheel.
The new measures, which follow a public consultation, were described as an interim measure by the Government to support the early deployment of self-driving vehicles.
But a full regulatory framework is expected to be in place by 2025.
Many cars on the roads at the moment already have several features in place that will steer, brake and even change lanes without driver intervention.