Road Vehicle Automation: Safety Impact and Future Solutions

In order to ensure EU Road Safety 2020 target of 15,700 fatalities and long term vision of zero road fatalities could be realistically met, the EU and vehicle manufacturers have plans to introduce more automation technologies into road vehicles and eventually reaching an autonomous future. This research aim to justify the need for increasing automation in road vehicles by assessing the key accident causal factors and the safety impact of Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) in addressing the accident factors. This is followed by identifying gaps and negative impact of ADAS which gives rise to the need for autonomous vehicles. Considering the test data of autonomous vehicles operating in a mixed-mode environment (autonomous and legacy vehicles), this research has also highlighted problems that are resulted from this environment and proposed solutions to suggest the direction for manufacturers moving forward.

Year 1950-2000: The era of automated safety systems begins and function-specific systems were introduced to assist drivers in handling vehicle controls. Year 2000-2015: ADAS allows vehicles to sense surrounding environment and adapt function-specific automation systems towards drivers’ real-time needs. Although the system has become smarter from the previous era, it does not fully address the problem where 90% of accidents came from human failure. Year 2016-2025: Autopilot is allowed in some cases and driver need to take control during critical situations. Year 2025+: Fully autonomous vehicles where drivers are not expected to take control of the vehicle.

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