Make AEB a priority before driverless cars, says Thatcham

Responding to Vince Cable’s announcement on plans to begin trials of driverless cars in the UK next year, motor insurance industry-established automotive research centre Thatcham Research said that while fully driverless cars “are an exciting glimpse of the future with substantial potential to improve road safety,” it opines that the UK car fleet “has a long way to go” before the technology should be unleashed on the motoring public.

“Today’s announcement that the Government will allow driverless cars on UK roads in just five months’ time sets an ambitious target,” said Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research. “We fully support the automation of safety features such as braking/steering where the vehicle intervenes to avoid a crash – but we must recognise that fully driverless cars require a great deal more comprehensive testing and development before they can be made commercially available in the UK – or anywhere in the world.”

Shaw continued: “We therefore support the controlled testing that the government is encouraging and are monitoring the results with great interest. In the meantime we are calling on the UK Government to materially support proposed financial incentives designed to encourage more car makers to fit existing Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) technology as standard, and save more than 1,200 lives over the next ten years alone.”

Thatcham has been researching and testing AEB systems on behalf of insurers for the last three years and has carried out hundreds of tests on a wide range of new vehicles. “The evidence from our testing is undeniable, and combined with a growing body of real world research and evidence, we firmly believe that AEB and other ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems) have a critical role to play in safer roads for the future’” added Shaw. “Fully driverless cars may take a while longer to gain widespread acceptance.”

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