Starting off as a simple mechanical device created to increase the ease, speed and distance of travel, the car has quickly evolved to become an integral part of our lives.
Before driverless cars can be released into our complex environment, they need to achieve exceptional levels of safety. How close are we to making this happen? Automation is old hat. Almost every new car built features some form of non-human control: ABS; cruise control; lane-changing warning systems; even semi-automatic control. In the latter case, the car is capable of following traffic, accelerating and braking, as well as keeping to the same lane, within a defined maximum speed.
It is fair to say that the automotive industry has been very successful in integrating software systems for many decades. In fact, systems like traction control, ESP and ABS have dramatically improved the performance and safety of vehicles over many years. However, recently, on quite a few occasions, safety issues in the software of road vehicles have made the news headlines resulting in vehicle recalls that have damaged the industry’s reputation and cost it millions of pounds.