New Driving Test for Autonomous Cars?

According to an European Union Think Tank, both the driver and car should have to undergo a new style driving test before you are allowed to take control of your new autonomous car on an actual road. This does sound somewhat counter-intuitive as isn’t the whole point of autonomous cars to eliminate the driver?

The revised test is likely to have major differences from the current style of testing and will focus more on the process of relinquishing control and thereafter resuming control, especially in the event of an event that may lead to an accident. The report is from the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) and comes just as Volvo is about to start trialling autonomous cars in the UK and its home-base of Sweden, both of which are seen as evidence that the A-MoD movement is going much faster than previously thought possible.

The report from the ETSC is squarely aimed at policy makers and politicians, and is entitled “Prioritising the Safety Potential of Automated Driving in Europe” with the aim of addressing some of the major reservations Joe Public have had about the future of hands-free driving, in particular the question of liability apportioning if there is a crash.

The report goes as far as recommending that all member states actually commence the process of redrafting their driving test rules now to accommodate technology updates – progressively increasing the extent of driver assistance – so future drivers can gain a working knowledge of how and when to use the features.

The report also includes putting the car through a test designed to cover all of the new safety functions of automated vehicles, although there was no mention of reading a number plate from 100 yards, identifying road signs, reversing around a corner or the ability to parallel park; all features of the current UK test, of course.

The report is not a legally binding document and simply recommendations at this point, but it is sure to be studied in great detail by car manufacturers who are currently experimenting with A-MoD technology.

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