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13 June 2019

AVs could have ‘huge value’ in inner cities

First publishedon www.ITSInternational.com

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) could have value as the mainstay of inner city transport networks in future.

“It’s pure speculation, but we are likely to see more segregated road networks,” said Chris Hayhurst, European consulting manager at MathWorks.

For example, level 5 (completely driverless) AVs could simply be used to pick up and drop off people in the centre of a town. “In an inner city where there are no conventional cars at all it could have huge value,” he added.

Hayhurst spoke to ITS International at the launch this week of the London Science Museum’s exhibition Driverless: who is in control? which runs until October 2020. MathWorks, principal sponsor of the exhibition, provides the data and analysis to help build control systems for AVs among other projects.

However, it is one thing getting AVs to operate in relatively small, controlled environments – it is quite another adding them into the sort of chaotic road conditions which currently exist in cities worldwide. “It’s hard to even imagine the amount of data and testing you’d need to cope with that,” Hayhurst pointed out.

There are also difficulties in level 4, where a driver is required to take control from the AV only at certain times. “There is a lot of room there for simulation and modelling, understanding that transfer of control,” he added. “In some ways level 5 is easier than level 4. You sell a car – you don’t train them [drivers] like a pilot!”

In addition to the technological change required for AVs to work, there also needs to be ‘societal change’ so that the public gets used to the idea of driverless cars, Hayhurst suggests.

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