Legal issues in automated vehicles: critically considering the potential role of consent and interactive digital interfaces
Some of the first ‘automated’ vehicles to be deployed on our roads will require a system of shared driving with a human driver. While this creates technical and operational challenges, the law must also facilitate such a transfer. One method may be to obtain the driver’s consent to share operational responsibility and to delineate legal responsibility between vehicle and driver in the event of an accident. Consent is a voluntary agreement where an individual is aware of the potential consequences of their consent, including the risks. The driver of a partially automated vehicle must be informed of potential risks before giving consent to share operational responsibility. This paper will refer to the inherent dangers associated with shared operational responsibility, in particular where there has been a request for the driver to take back control from the automated vehicle during the journey. Drivers are likely to experience delay in regaining situational awareness, making such operational transfers hazardous. It is argued that where an interactive digital interface is used to convey information, such as driver responsibility, risk and legal terms, drivers may fail to sufficiently process such communications due to fundamental weaknesses in human–machine interaction. The use of an interactive digital interface alone may be inadequate to effectively communicate information to drivers. If the problems identified are not addressed, it is argued that driver consent may be inconsequential, and fail to facilitate a predicable demarcation of legal responsibility between automated vehicles and drivers. Ongoing research into automated vehicle driver training is considered as part of the preparation required to design driver education to a level whereby drivers may be able to sufficiently understand the responsibilities involved in operating a partially automated vehicle, which has implications for future driver training, licensing and certification.
Ambivalence in stakeholders’ views on connected and autonomous vehicles
Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) are often discussed as a solution to pressing issues of the current transport systems, including congestion, safety, social inclusion and ecological sustainability. Scientifically, there is agreement that CAVs may solve, but can also aggravate these issues, depending on the specific CAV solution. In the current paper, we investigate the visions and worst-case scenarios of various stakeholders, including representatives of public administrations, automotive original equipment manufacturers, insurance com-panies, public transportation service providers, mobility experts and politicians. A qualitative analysis of 17 semi-structured interviews is presented. It reveals experts’ ambivalence towards the introduction of CAVs, reflecting high levels of uncertainty about CAV consequences, including issues of efficiency, comfort and sustainability, and concerns about co-road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. Implications of the sluggishness of policymakers to set boundary conditions and for the labor market are discussed. An open debate between policymakers, citi-zens and other stakeholders on how to introduce CAVs seems timely.
Connected and autonomous vehicles: What challenges in ergonomics?
Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) hold out the hope of a safer, more fluid and responsible mobile world. Today, some pilots are taking place in different countries. Beyond the technological challenges, it is now necessary to focus on the human dimension of CAVs. What are the acceptance factors for future users? What new modes of human-VAC interaction are to be imagined? What driving training should be developed to prepare drivers of these vehicles without a driver? The purpose of this paper is to list some challenges for ergonomics, in order to feed the debates in which some researchers are already involved.