A coalition of UK insurers has warned that ambiguity over the differences between 'assisted' and 'automated' vehicle systems may lead to a short-term increase in road collisions. The Automated Driving Insurer Group (ADIG), headed by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in collaboration with Thatcham Research, released a white paper aiming to address the significant regulatory changes that assisted and automated systems will necessitate. The Regulating Automated Driving white paper shows a wide range of companies which are strongly supportive of vehicle automation on the grounds that it will reduce accidents on the road. These include AXA, Admiral Ageas, Allianz, Aviva, Co-operative Insurance, Covea, Direct Line Group, Esure, LV, RSA, Zurich and the Lloyd's Market. However, concerns have been raised that drivers may be confused over so-called intermediate automated systems. These mid-stage systems offer a great deal of self-driving capability, but they also require the driver to resume control of the vehicle in certain conditions. The paper suggests that the distinction between 'assisted' and 'automated' systems needs to be clearly defined by international regulators. Peter Shaw, CEO of Thatcham Research, said: 'Vehicles with intermediate systems that offer assisted driving still require immediate driver intervention if the car cannot deal with a situation. "Systems like these are fast emerging and unless clearly regulated, could convince drivers that their car is more capable than it actually is. "This risk of autonomous ambiguity could result in a short-term increase in crashes.î The group suggests that a vehicle should be identified and marketed as 'automated' only when:

  • The driver can disengage from driving safely, in the knowledge that the car is able to deal with virtually all road tasks
  • The vehicle can reliably come to a safe stop when encountering a situation it can't handle
  • The autonomous system can avoid all possible crash types and can function even in the event of a partial system failure
  • Both insurers and manufacturers are able to access vehicle data in order to, in the event of accidents, identify liability without ambiguity

James Dalton, directory of general insurance policy at the ABI, said: 'The insurance industry strongly supports the development of automated driving technology _ which we see as the logical conclusion to work over several decades to reduce the numbers of people killed or seriously injured on the roads. 'However, we know all too well from conventional vehicles that drivers often misunderstand what their vehicles can and can't do. Therefore, consistent standards are needed so that those taking up automated driving technology can do so with confidence.î The paper also calls upon vehicle manufacturers to provide maximum clarity in the labelling and naming of assisted driving systems. Shaw said: 'Vehicle Manufacturers should be judicious in badging and marketing such systems, avoiding terms which could be misinterpreted as denoting full autonomy. Hybrid systems which creep into the intermediate grey area between assisted and automated should also be avoided.î