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Autonomous Cars Should Pull Over If Driver Is Asleep, Thatcham Says

Thatcham Research, the research body of the motor insurance industry, is highlighting some of the challenges ahead for autonomous vehicles. One of them would be that, by 2021, they should be made to pull over safely to the side of the road in case the driver is no longer paying attention.
Thatcham Research says strict regulations are needed to make AVs pull over to the side in case the driver falls asleep 9 photos
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The first video included below, with Matthew Avery from Thatcham Research and television personality Dallas Campbell, best illustrates why the research center feels special provisions must be made for AVs in case of driver inattention. The second video is with the same researcher and a BBC team on the same topic.

The idea is the same in both: in case the driver is no longer paying attention to the road, is sound asleep or for whatever reason is ignoring the warnings from the car to resume control, the vehicle itself should pull over to the side and not just stop in the middle of the lane. The latter would increase the odds of an accident and is a very dangerous option, especially on busy highways.

Thatcham believes being able to get off the road and to a safer zone should be mandated by special regulations in the case of AVs. The fact that the driver is not paying attention could be verified by a system of cameras mounted on the dashboard, and would be followed by several audio cues prompting him to resume control of the vehicle.

For both tests, a Lincoln MKZ hybrid fitted with Veoneer technology was used. In addition to the audio cues, the car could also brake somewhat suddenly to jolt the driver into paying attention.

Thatcham also believes that, by 2025, AVs will be able to drive themselves with the least human intervention, which means the driver will not have to resume control in case of obstructed traffic or unexpected obstacles – and will not be prompted to either. Reading while driving will then be a safe option.

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