Lookup NU author(s): Professor Phil Blythe
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The fast moving world of ITC, Information Technology and Communication, has impacted on nearly every aspect of human life. Not surprisingly, many of the advantages that technology could offer to transport have been identified and the field of transport telematics or ITS, Intelligent Transport Systems, has evolved into an area that promises to deliver significant benefits to the transport field by helping Government, local authorities and other transport providers to achieve their transport policy objectives and to the public at large by, for example, assisting in capacity utilisation, providing pre- and in-trip information and making travel safer. To date, a significant number of applications have been identified, developed and tested as part of research and development programs for possible introduction when either the technology has been proved, market penetration overcomes price constraints or public attitudes are deemed to be sympathetic to their introduction. Although road traffic has increased by 70% since 1980 the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents has reduced by 52% and the total number of accidents fell by 9% (DfT, 2003). This indicates that although our roads are now more congested than ever they are safer due in the main to advances in vehicle design, such as improved crumple zones and side impact bars, and passive technology, such as seat belt tensioners, airbags and antilock braking systems, each leading to the reduction of accident severity as well as an improved information, education and regulatory regime. Notwithstanding this, even with these advances, in the UK 41,000 people were killed or seriously injured in road accidents in 2001. Kopf (2002) asserts it is “evident that the fatality reducing potential of passive safety measures is almost exhausted. Therefore, active safety measures such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) seem to be the only means of reducing the number of accidents”. ADVANCED DRIVER ASSISTANCE SYSTEMS (ADAS This view would seem to be shared by both the world motor industry and European governments given the considerable amount of research and development work that has been undertaken on different ADAS applications. These range in complexity from the development of passive systems such as on-vehicle parking distance sensors, more interactive systems such as intelligent cruise control, intervention systems such as those aimed at accident avoidance through to driverless cars that are able to operate with no human intervention. Research on ADAS has focused on the technological development of applications and systems proving. However, in today’s society acceptability by the general public of technological advances is crucial if the envisaged benefits are to be realised. Surprisingly, therefore, up until this year, very little work had been done on understanding user acceptance and willingness to pay. PUBLIC ATTITUDES Research has been undertaken at Newcastle University which tested public perceptions, attitudes and acceptance levels, including willingness to pay, to a range of ADAS applications not yet introduced as standard on the vast majority of vehicles. This found that the public are not aware of the majority of ADAS applications but perceive them to offer both safety and ease and comfort benefits. Attitudes are favourable towards such systems providing they can be switched off by the driver and negative when they cannot. There is, however, a general willingness to accept systems that remove some form of control from the driver, with 54% of respondents believing they should assist or take over from the driver. That said, the public are only willing to pay for those applications which they can easily and readily identify as having a clear and direct benefit for them, albeit the sums they are prepared to pay are relatively small. If ADAS applications are to be introduced successfully into the commercial market place, and the anticipated safety benefits of these fully exploited, Curtis’s research suggests that some form of public education programme, principally through raising the profile of ADAS through publicising ongoing research, product development and product benefits, must be pursued to ensure the public identify ADAS applications as having clear and direct benefits to them as individuals. Fiscal incentives, both for manufacturers to bring forward these products to the market place and for vehicle purchasers, are also identified as having a role to play. The findings of this research, and especially the public’s willingness to relinquish aspects of a vehicles control, suggests that at least some of the following scenario maybe achievable, subject to overcoming legal constraints regarding responsibilities and policy considerations, within a ten year timescale. “It’s a cold, foggy winters day as I reverse off my driveway, with a light drizzle of rain thrown in to further compound the much reduced visibility. However, sitting warm and comfortable inside my Ford Zooton I am not in the least concerned. A flick of a switch as I engage the forward drive and the vision enhancement system is activated. A head up display, projected so that it appears to be an integral part of the windscreen, is now my eyes. The way forward clearly illuminated as if the fog has magically dispersed. I engage my Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) System, setting the speed for a maximum of 30mph for this urban part of the journey and the distance control to three car lengths, and relax, concentrating my mind solely on steering. As I near a school and pass a variable speed limit sign indicating I am entering a 20mph limit the car gently slows as a result of the Intelligent Speed Adaptation system. A combination of communication with the sign and the overhead satellite ensuring my car does not exceed the maximum permitted speed at any time. Suddenly, an alarm within the car sounds and I am hit with a blast of icy air. These driver assistance systems are great but they do mean that sometimes you can relax a bit too much when you’re driving, your reaction time and blinking rate slows and the driver monitoring system kicks in to deliver an ear splitting noise and one of a number of “wake up” options. Thankfully, this time the random system elected for a shot of icy cold air so I am spared the alternatives, including the cold water – most embarrassing when you arrive at work and your colleagues can tell you’ve almost nodded off at the wheel. The traffic lights which control access to the busy A14 multi lane dual carriageway start to turn red as I approach, no opportunity for accelerating through as the car automatically slows to a stop to obey the signal, whilst the car’s computer automatically switches from Adaptive Cruise Control to manual control, sounding a warning “bing” to advise me of the change. As I move off to join the main road ACC is again engaged and the car accelerates rapidly to 70mph maintaining a steady, constant distance behind the car in front. The car on the inside lane appears to start to move over as I draw alongside. A warning noise sounds to alert me to this and almost simultaneously the car automatically slows and the horn is activated, warning the adjacent driver of his error and of the potential accident that the collision warning and avoidance system has just prevented. As he pulls back over I accelerate past him, continuing on my way. Entering the outskirts of Cambridge, I’m almost there now, save for the everyday congestion and traffic queues that are a feature of this road but that are made easy by the car’s Stop&Go facility keeping me the perfect distance from the vehicle in front as we move slowly forward. Entering the car park I locate a vacant space, will my vehicle fit ?, it looks a bit tight. No need to worry as the Parking Assist feature scans the space advises me there is room for my car and asks if I want it to park. A simple “yes” and the car moves forward and then back, reversing neatly, and perfectly centrally, into the space. Safely and effortlessly I have arrived.” Delivery of this scenario will require a number of issues, including social, political and legal, to be addressed. Bachmann et al (2000), working for BMW, contends that “if authority and responsibility are taken away from the driver and are delegated to a technical system.........the driver tends to rely on these systems in all circumstances (“this is what the system is there for”)”. He therefore suggests that “The main key for enhancing road safety..........is to direct responsibility to the driver, not to take it away from him”. It is clear from the research of the author detailed earlier in this paper, and the statement by Bachmann et al, that the greatest barrier to the introduction of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems lies not, as may have been expected, with technology or public attitudes but with overcoming legal responsibility, and hence liability, issues should a system fail. Only if this is achieved will the many benefits that ADAS can offer materialise. The proposed paper will elaborate on the issues alluded to above and present some significant results on attitudes to ADAS , the types of systems that end users may be willing to use and willingness to pay – thus beginning to identity market trends and future markets for this key sector of ITS Development
Author(s): Blythe PT, Curtis A
Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)
Publication status: Unknown
Conference Name: 11th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems and Services, Nagoya, Japan, October. Proc. 11th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems and Services
Year of Conference: 2004