Could smart cars send drivers back to school? Research suggests self-driving tech requires more training

Could smart cars send drivers back to school? Research suggests self-driving tech requires more training
Motorists may need further training before they can get behind the wheels of semi-autonomous cars, according to the latest research.

A study by the University of Nottingham found that drivers using Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) needed to be taught how to hand over control from the vehicle to the human.

Semi-autonomous systems include lane keeping technology and sensors used to detect and prevent imminent collisions, but both of these require drivers to maintain control of the vehicle.

Although some cars feature driverless technology, fully driverless cars that don’t require human control aren’t expected on UK roads for many years.

In an experiment where drivers were split into two groups – one trained to understand their responsibilities in an autonomous car, the other given an operating manual – the former fared better in safety tests.

Analysis found that 90% of the group given training spotted a potential hazard when controls were handed over from the car to the driver. The better prepared group were also more likely to check their mirrors when manually controlling the car.

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Emily Shaw, lead author and member of the University of Nottingham’s Human Factors Research Group said: “To date, driver training for automated vehicles is no different to that provided for manual vehicles.

“However, the introduction of intermediate levels of automation into vehicles means that the driving task is shared between the driver and system, fundamentally changing the role of the driver.”

The RAC Foundation, which funded the research, believes the results demonstrate the need to update the way learners are taught to drive.

Just as satnavs have been incorporated into today’s driving tests, further changes could be on the horizon.

Director Steve Gooding said: “It’s clear we’re going to need those changes sooner rather than later.

“The bigger challenge is how best to inform the 40 million or so licence holders who aren’t expecting to have to take another test.”

Back in August of this year, the government launched a call for evidence on using automated driving systems.

Described as a ‘significant step’ in embracing driverless technology, the Department for Transport will consider whether cars fitted with the systems should be legally classed as automated vehicles.

Their decision will have serious implications on safety responsibilities for technology providers and drivers.

Some road safety experts have already begun to address the driverless technology education gap. Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research launched a first-of-its-kind Assisted Driver Grading system just last month.

The classifications are designed to tackle what Thatcham Research calls the “dangerous misconception” that motorists can purchase a self-driving car today.

Does your car have autonomous driving systems? Let us know how comfortable you are with using them in the comments below.

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