Autonomous technology – taking back control

Posted on October 11th, 2017 by Rob Marshall


While autonomous cars continue to court controversy, much of the technology to make the seemingly impossible goal of a self-driving car is here already. Many of today’s models can brake and steer themselves away from danger automatically and many onlookers, from within the motor repair industry, regard future MoT Test changes will be made to maintain these safety systems.

Is one car’s autonomous features better than another’s?

Currently, we do not know. However, Euro NCAP, the body that started evaluating crash test performance in 1997, has stepped-up to the mark.  Its aim is to provide clear, impartial information for car buyers about the degree of automation in a car and how effective those systems might be. As part of its 20th anniversary, Euro NCAP has announced that it will assess the following:

Driver Monitoring (from 2020),

Automatic Emergency Steering (2020 / 2022),

Autonomous Emergency Braking (2020 / 2022),

Vehicle to Vehicle Data Exchange and Vehicle to Infrastructure (2024)

Whiplash/Rear-end Crash Protection (2020)

Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety (2022)

Rescue, Extrication and Safety (2020)

Child Presence Detection (2022).

Reaction to the announcement

I agree that any independent tests that measure the effectiveness of autonomous technology between car manufacturers are immensely valuable. I hope that they will be presented clearly, to provide transparency for consumers, especially those who are confused about the baffling array of acronyms that each manufacturer employs.

Peter Shaw, chief executive, of the UK’s Thatcham Research has also reacted, by stating that the move,

“…is a significant message of intent, and marks a watershed in vehicle safety assessments and ratings. It is no longer about just protecting car occupants in an accident, but also assessing how capable a car can brake and steer automatically to avoid other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. It lays the foundations for safety assessment of autonomous vehicles.”

Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research’s director of research added: “We have concerns over the way car manufacturers name and market assisted and automated driving functionalities, with ‘auto’ or ‘pilot’ prefixes. People are looking for answers around how safe are the new assisted and autonomous technologies and the Euro NCAP assessments and ratings will give clear information about how safely they operate and what obligations the driver has for taking back control.”