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It appears as though the University of Southampton wants to know what driver perceptions are relating to automated vehicles. Fleet News UK reports that the University is now recruiting participants for a new study that will ask volunteers to react to video footage they say will tell them how people perceive sharing the road with automated vehicles. They hope to understand from the study whether the UK is ready for driverless cars. This does not concern us as much as the question of whether driver perceptions will have any effect on CPC training.

The study is said to involve a series of video clips running between four and five seconds apiece. The clips will feature a white Tesla Model S making lane changes as it drives down the motorway. Study participants will have to decide whether the car is being driven by a human or an automated system. The test lasts about 10 minutes and can be taken from any computer or mobile device.

Researchers say they hope the results of the study will help them address potential problems with automated cars before those problems arise. They have not explained how such a rudimentary test would assist in that endeavour, but we will leave that for them to explain after they collect and analyse the data. We do know that the study is part of the EU’s Human Factors for Automated Driving project.

What If Results Are Not Good?

We do not claim to know what the public perception of automated vehicles is. But what if the results of the study are not good? What if the study shows that public perception is not what it should be to maintain safety in an era of driverless cars? We believe one of the first things the government will look at is changing training standards.

Training is a necessary part of getting a driving licence. That is something we can all agree on. But will drivers need to be retrained in order to accommodate sharing the road with autonomous cars? We ask because it’s highly unlikely that any eventual transition to automation will be done quickly. It is likely to be a process that is conducted over years, if not decades. That would mean most of us would share the road with driverless cars and trucks.

This would likely mean a change to the CPC training professional drivers now undergo. They may have to be trained to have better perceptive abilities and to know how to react in case driverless cars lose control. And assuming automation ever comes to commercial vehicles (and we have our doubts) drivers would need to be trained in how to safely regain control of a lorry or bus in the event of an emergency.

It will be interesting to see what the study produces. In the meantime, our CPC training will continue as it always has. We train drivers according to government standards and current Driver CPC regulations.

Sources:

Fleet News UK – http://www.fleetnews.co.uk/news/fleet-industry-news/2016/04/11/new-study-focuses-on-people-s-perceptions-of-automated-vehicles

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