StreetDrone, the company who make it faster, easier but safer for cities to deploy, learn and scale autonomous urban vehicles, today published a report entitled “Putting Safety First in Autonomous Vehicles” to contribute to the connected & autonomous (CAV) industry safety debate. In particular, the StreetDrone perspective adds to conventional CAV safety wisdom by placing a deeper reliance on the vehicle hardware contribution to safely put autonomous vehicles on the road.
The purpose of the 30-page report is to make an experience-based contribution to the safety debate to enable the CAV industry to accelerate corporate, institutional and public confidence in self-driving technology, so that the benefits of new autonomous services can be realised more quickly.
The report – essential reading for anyone with an interest in the development of autonomous vehicle technologies, especially public transport and delivery companies, civic authorities and universities – is freely available for download at: https://www.streetdrone.com/safetyreport
StreetDrone’s report is based on the company’s experience in operating autonomous vehicle trials in urban environments. The significant safety challenges in deploying these vehicles in the context of high population densities and complex infrastructure settings has given the company a safety perspective that can add to the development of improved safety standards across the industry.
Mike Potts, StreetDrone’s CEO said, “This is a difficult time for everyone. While we’ve had to make some changes to our operations due to Covid-19, we’ve also had the opportunity to write our Safety Report based on the experience of building and running autonomous vehicles over the past three years of StreetDrone’s operations. This experience spans the full stack of AV disciplines from hardware and mechanical design through to AI and software, as well as a deep insight into city centre public highway trials. For an organisation focused on ‘zone 1’ urban trials, we have necessarily been safety-led, so our report encapsulates much of this knowledge. We believe that industry collaboration and knowledge-sharing are essential prerequisites for CAV technology to achieve wide-scale adoption and we’re therefore delighted to make our own contribution to this growing body of knowledge.
Importantly, the paper also reflects a clear and distinct perspective that too often the vehicle element of the autonomous technology stack is not fully considered. In the safety report, we propose a set of rules for the automotive safety factors that address what we consider to be a systemic oversight across the industry of these vital hardware considerations.”
StreetDrone’s own hardware platforms range from the L7e class Renault Twizy heavy quadricycle to the flexible Nissan eNV200, which comes in taxi, delivery van or 7-seater passenger variants. All benefit from StreetDrone’s ‘autonomous-ready’ technology conversion which includes a proprietary control system that works in parallel with the vehicle’s original control and safety systems in order that all of the safety validation undertaken by the carmaker is maintained. The StreetDrone platform approach operates upstream of all of these systems and leaves them functionally intact, rather than reverse-engineering or ‘hacking’ existing vehicle control system capabilities, like lane-keeping and power steering.
Beyond the core hardware and mechanical considerations, the StreetDrone safety report also discusses multiple other areas for the safe operation of autonomous vehicles including the definition of a safe operating environment, minimum operating standards for safety drivers, and a set of open data protocols for effective error tracking and rectification.