Monday, 5 December 2016

How would you treat a driverless car?

Scenario: Say you're driving down a two-way street and there's a vehicle parked in the opposite lane. The oncoming traffic therefore needs to pull out into your lane to overtake.

What do you do?
Many of us just drive on as we have right of way. But eventually one of us feels charitable and slows down to allow the oncoming car to overtake, giving permission with a quick flash of headlights or a beckoning wave.

Now consider if this oncoming car was a driverless or autonomous vehicle (AV)?
would it be able to understand what you mean when you flash your lights or frantically wave your hands?

Its sensors could decide that it's only safe to overtake when there's no oncoming traffic at all. which on a busy road this may be never, leading to increasingly exasperated passengers and increasingly angry drivers queuing behind.

These safety-first robot cars could become victims of their own politeness and end up being bullied and ignored by aggressive, impatient humans.

This, at any rate, is one of the conclusions to be drawn from research carried out by Dr Chris Tennant of the psychological and behavioural science department at the London School of Economics.

His Europe-wide survey, commissioned by tyre-maker Goodyear, finds that nearly two-thirds of drivers think machines won't have enough commonsense to interact with human drivers.

And more than two-fifths think a robot car would remain stuck behind our hypothetical parked lorry for a long time.

Robot v. human
Driving isn't just about technology and engineering, it's about human interactions and psychology.

"The road is a social space," as Carlos Cipolitti, general director of the Goodyear Innovation Centre in Luxembourg, puts it.

And it is this social aspect that makes many people sceptical about driverless cars.

"If you view the road as a social space, you will consciously negotiate your journey with other drivers. People who like that negotiation process appear to feel less comfortable engaging with AVs than with human drivers," says Mr Tennant in his report.

Of course, humans are always sceptical about new technologies of which they have little experience. That scepticism usually diminishes with usage, however.

And even many sceptics accept that emotionless AVs could cause fewer accidents than we humans, with our propensity to road rage, tiredness and lack of concentration.

A statistic often used out is that human error is responsible for more than 90% of accidents.

But 70% of the 12,000 people Mr Tennant and his team interviewed agreed that: "As a point of principle, humans should be in control of their vehicles."

An an even greater proportion - 80% - thought an autonomous vehicle should always have a steering wheel.

AV pioneer Google - which aims to develop cars without steering wheels - reckons it can meet most of these real-world challenges.

It has already filed patent requests for tech that it claims will be able to identify aggressive or reckless driving and respond to it; and recognise and react to the flashing lights of police cars and emergency services.

In time then, it may well be able to programme its cars to recognise the different meanings of headlight flashes, and interpret the intentions of human drivers by their behaviour.

In the latest Google self-driving car project monthly report, head honcho Dmitri Dolgov says: "Over the last year, we've learned that being a good driver is more than just knowing how to safely navigate around people, [it's also about] knowing how to interact with them."

These interactions are "a delicate social dance", he writes, claiming that Google cars can now "often mimic these social behaviours and communicate our intentions to other drivers, while reading many cues that tell us if we're able to pass, cut in or merge."

Google's test cars have now racked up more than two million fully-autonomous miles of driving on public roads in California, Arizona, Texas and Washington, reporting a handful of minor accidents to the Californian authorities.

Interestingly, quite a few of these accidents have involved human-driven vehicles going into the back of the Google cars, suggesting perhaps that the ultra-cautious robots, with safety as their first priority, are more timid in their approach than we're used to.

Mr Dolgov admits that the self-driving software is not yet ready for commercial release.

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Source: BBC

Sunday, 4 December 2016

British insurers want driverless car data


Driverless car technology seems to be advancing at breakneck speed - Now the insurance industry is calling on carmakers to provide more data to show who was at fault in accidents involving driverless vehicles. The insurers say drivers need to be able to prove that they're not at fault if the technology goes wrong.

The Association of British Insurers wants cars to collect a basic set of core data which would be made available after an accident. The data would cover

  • 30 seconds before any incident
  • 15 seconds after any incident
  • exact location of the vehicle
  • Mode: autonomous or under the control of the driver
  • If the motorist was in the driver's seat and had a seatbelt on.

The ABI's Director General Huw Evans says this data "would offer public reassurance by protecting motorists from being incorrectly blamed if something fails with their car, helping police investigations and supporting prompt insurance payouts."

The UN body which agrees international regulations on vehicle safety is due to bring in new rules on data collection in 2019 and the insurers are hoping to influence that process.

In the long term, fully autonomous vehicles could make the roads so safe meaning that there would be little need for motor insurance. However for the next few years, as more cars get autonomous driving features, there could be a period of dangerous confusion for motorists.

 Experts think that we will have to wait until the mid 2020s for a vehicle that can be left to get on with the job in all circumstances. Will autonomous driving technology even appear attractive in the interim with the higher price tag, when those that buy it will have to keep their hands hovering over the wheel and their eyes on the road until the product evolves further. Only time will tell.....

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Drivers caught using phones for first time now face points

Under new government plans drivers in England, Scotland and Wales caught using a mobile phone for the first time will automatically receive penalty points.

Previously, motorists in some police force areas could avoid points by taking a remedial driving course. However ministers believe it is not a tough enough measure to deter people from using a hand-held phone while driving.

They have also confirmed plans to raise fines for offences from £100 to £200 and penalty points from three to six.

The scrapping of the driving course option is among several measures announced in a government response to a consultation on punishments for drivers caught using hand-held phones.
The government first announced that it was going to increase fines and double penalty points in September.

The new measures, which are due to take effect next year, follow the jailing last month of lorry driver Tomasz Kroker, who killed a mother and three children while distracted by his phone.

Fine numbers plummet

The number of fines issued for motorists caught using a mobile phone illegally has plummeted by 84% since 2011.

Some 16,900 drivers were handed fixed-penalty notices in England and Wales last year, compared with 123,100 in 2011, Home Office data shows.

Motoring groups believe the decline is due to a 27% fall in the number of full-time dedicated roads policing officers in England and Wales (excluding London) between 2010 and 2015.

Department for Transport figures show that a driver being impaired or distracted by their phone had been a contributory factor in 440 accidents in Britain last year, including 22 which were fatal and 75 classed as serious.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: "By ruling out courses and doubling the fine, ministers are reflecting public concern and showing they want to stamp out a potentially lethal activity before it becomes entrenched behaviour for a growing number of drivers."

The measures will not affect Northern Ireland, where drivers are currently given three penalty points and a £60 fine for the offence.

The Department for Infrastructure has said there are no plans to change this, but it "will continue to monitor changes being made in Britain to see what can be learned".






www.radar-detectors.co.uk

Source BBC

Monday, 7 November 2016

Sharp rise in speeding tickets on 'smart motorways'

The introduction of smart motorways has seen a big rise in speeding fines. According to data collated by the BBC's The One Show, between 2010 and 2015, fixed penalties issued on smart sections increased from 2,000 to a whopping 52,000.

There are more than 236 miles of smart motorways in England, which use the hard shoulder and variable speed limits to control traffic flow. The government says they are not there to generate revenue but are used to improve capacity.

Smart motorways are operated by Highways England, which uses overhead gantries to direct traffic into open lanes and change speed limits depending on the volume of traffic (the gantries also containing speed cameras).

A further 200 miles of smart motorways are currently under construction or in the planning phase.

Revenue increased The One Show asked 12 police forces in England which monitor major stretches of smart motorway, including parts of the M1, M25, M4, M42 and M6, for the total number of speeding tickets and fines collected.

The majority of forces responded, with half supplying directly comparable data, showing that a total 52,516 tickets had been issued on these stretches in 2014-15 compared to 2,023 in 2010-11.
That meant the revenue going to central government every year increased to more than £1.1m, from £150,600 five years ago.

There is just one stretch of smart motorway on the M9 in Scotland - this saw tickets increase from 9 to 41 over the 4 years. No data was supplied by police for the stretch of the M4 in South Wales.
On one section of the M1 in Nottinghamshire, police issued 8,489 tickets, amounting to £425,000 of fines, in 2015. In 2010, it issued no fines at all.

Nottinghamshire police defended the figures, saying the speed cameras had only been fully operational since 2013.

Safety concerns Nottingham-based motoring lawyer Paul Wright said he had seen a "deluge" of cases along one stretch of the M1.

He told the BBC: "A cynic might say that it's another way of getting more and more money out of the motorist, over and above what we're paying already.

"And it's an easy way to extract fines from people, because once you're clocked over the limit by the camera, it's very difficult to fight against that."

And the AA told The One Show "questions need to be answered about the money being recouped".
It has also raised safety concerns about drivers having to use emergency refuge areas when the hard shoulder is removed to operate as an extra lane.

AA president Edmund King said more emergency refuges were needed and they should be twice as long, adding: "Only a couple of weeks ago one of our members broke down on a smart motorway. There was a red 'X' up but they still got hit from behind."

Cut congestion With motorway traffic forecast to increase by up to 60% from 2010 rates by 2040, the government is pressing ahead with its £6bn investment in smart motorways.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "Smart motorways smooth traffic flow and cut congestion for millions of motorists, with evidence from trials showing they are just as safe as regular motorways.

"Enforcement is a matter for the police and it is clear that speeding costs lives. However, we have been clear for a number of years that speed cameras should not be used to generate revenue."
Shaun Pidcock, head of Highways England's smart motorway network, said they were "the safest motorways on the network".

"We have 100% CCTV coverage and we have people watching over them, making sure they're safe, and we can get people in the traffic office to them far safer and quicker than we can do on normal motorways."

For a full report, watch The One Show on BBC One, at 19:00 GMT on Monday 7 November.


www.radar-detectors.co.uk



Source: BBC

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Rise in Company Car Drivers Speeding on Motorways

Although speeding is illegal, it appears that company car drivers are becoming more relaxed when it comes to this particular driving offence.

New research from RAC Business has revealed that nearly nine out of 10 (88%) company car drivers admitted to speeding on motorways -- a 7% rise on the previous year. (reported by Fleet News)

The research, part of the RAC's Report on Motoring 2016, found discrepancies between how frequently company car drivers and private motorists broke the speed limit.

According to the report, nearly half (48%) of company car drivers break the motorway speed limit on the majority of their journeys, while just over a quarter (26%) of private motorists admitted to doing the same.

The number of company car drivers who said their typical speed on the motorways was 80mph also increased, with 51% confessing so this year, compared to 46% in 2015. And there was a rise in those driving at 90mph, which grew from 5% last year to 7%.

The report also revealed worrying views on traveling at such speeds, with 60% finding it acceptable to drive at 80mph on the motorway.

What's more, nearly a third (31%) of company car drivers said they believe the current speed limit is inappropriate for the road, while almost three quarters (71%) feel the motorway limit should be increased to 80mph.

Discussing the Report on Motoring 2016, RAC Business's corporate business sales director, Jenny Powley, said that some worrying upward trends were brought to light.

Powley added: "A key way in which companies can respond to this growing problem is to make the most of telematics technology to identify high risk drivers and journeys and use the data to inform their staff training."

Do you think the motorway speed limit should be increased to 80mph?

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Friday, 3 June 2016

Auto Express - Speed Camera Detector Test Results Are In..........

Auto Express Review 2016Recently Auto Express tested a range of speed camera detectors and the results are in.....

The Cheetah C550 was voted "Best Price". The unit is designed to keep getting smarter with time. It's the very latest and most advanced of Cheetah's innovative and award winning GPS speed and red light camera detectors.

http://www.road-angel.co.uk/product/road-angel-gemThe C550, uses the internationally acclaimed Trinity 3.0 database to the maximum, sets the highest benchmark for consumer GPS speed and red light camera detectors.

Road Angel Gem+ came 2nd in the tests. The Road Angel Gem+ was incidentally voted best in 2012 which I think was the last time that Auto Express ran tests on speed camera detectors.

Which one will you choose to protect your license?


www.radar-detectors.co.uk

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Helpful motorist parks up behind police van and opens boot to BLOCK its speed camera

Mobile speed cameras have long infuriated drivers, popping up sneakily and catching out drivers going a few miles too fast.    

One man was so fed up of living in fear of a huge fine that he decided to take matters into his own hands.




Upon seeing one such mobile camera Kristian Portugal, from Hemel Hempstead, rolled his sports car right up behind a police van and opened his boot to block the radar inside so it couldn't scan the speed of passing cars.


He then got out of the car and went for a pint in The Crabtree - his local across the road in Hemel Hempstead.

A worker at the pub said the mobile van is always outside. 

The incident was spotted by one keen-eyed observer, who posted a picture on Imgur with the caption: 'Someone just parked in front of a speed camera, lifted his boot so nobody could get caught speeding. Then went to the pub across the road.'

According to traffic police, obstructing a speed camera may amount to obstructing the police and may also amount to perverting the course of justice, depending on circumstances. 

This image has spread widely across the internet gathering lots of comments. Peoples views on this mans actions have varied hugely, comments such as 'Someone buy that man a beer' at one end of the scale right the way down tto comments from some who were less impressed with his actions, claiming that speed cameras play an important safety role. 

Read more: dailymail

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