Thatcham identifies 2018 as landmark

In its role on the Assisted Driving Insurance Group, safety experts at Thatcham Research have identified the key stages of automation highlighting 2018 as a ‘landmark year’.

Thatcham claims 2018 will be a landmark year for the development of automated driving. It predicts cars will become a lot smarter with even more advanced driver comfort features and with regulations now permitting hands-off driving on motorways. The driver retains responsibility and will be expected to take-over control in case of unanticipated situations or system failures.

For motorway driving, some cars will feature an ‘auto pilot’ function, automatically driving the vehicle and allowing hands to be taken off the wheel for around three minutes at a time. After three minutes the system will warn the driver that they need to re-engage with the car in some way usually through putting their hands back on the steering wheel. If this doesn’t happen the system disconnects and the car will perform a minimum risk manoeuvre to bring itself to a controlled safe stop. The driver remains in control.

By 2021 Thatcham suggests new vehicles will be moving towards full autonomy now. On defined segments of motorway the car is able to take complete control allowing the driver to disengage from driving completely and to do other, unrelated and more time consuming tasks such as reading a book.

By 2025, it is envisaged that the car will be able to drive itself, fully hands free from door-to-door.