Last week, I attended the first CAV Scotland event. It was organised by Transport Scotland and Transport Network to promote the opportunities around connected and autonomous vehicles in Scotland. It was an excellent event, collocated with Bridges Scotland and Traffex Road Expo Scotland. This encouraged wider participation as delegates from the two other conferences could drop in and out. There was a wide range of speakers, over 30 in total from a wide range of backgrounds and the United States. I’m not going to try to summarise all the speakers but highlight some key themes from the conference:
Scotland is open for business in the CAV market
Michael Matheson MSP opened the event with his keynote speech. He stressed that Scotland wanted to be a key part of the connected and autonomous vehicles revolution. It was also good to hear that Scotland is open for testing. The Scottish government wants to take an active role, so they can help shape solutions to meet Scotland’s needs. Other talks from KMPG, Transport Scotland and Innovate UK also stressed this message. Linked to this, was a recurrent theme was that Scotland should focus on use cases special to Scotland and not replicate what is happening elsewhere. This is was also a key point of the panel discussion that I took part in. Freight and rural applications were highlighted as a potential area of expertise. An example of a country already undertaking focus trials came from Reija Viinanen of the Finnish Transport Association who talked about their capabilities of testing in Lapland to test in challenging wintry / snow conditions.
Assistance v Autonomy
A second theme was around the potential for confusion around lower levels of autonomy where they would need to take control. There was an excellent talk from Matthew Avery of Thatcham Research describing the work they have done looking at the capabilities and weaknesses of different automation systems plus how they are described to customers. They highlighted that Level 2 /3 systems should be described as “assistance” systems not “autonomy” systems. This was a message repeated in other presentations describing legal aspects of autonomous cars. Another good presentation came from a joint presentation of the Law Commissions of England and Scotland highlighting the work they are doing looking at the regulation of autonomous vehicles. A consultation document shall be published week commencing 5th November and is worth looking out for.
A final recurrent theme was the need for potential infrastructure changes, whether it be communications infrastructure or providing supporting data such as detailed maps of road layouts. The question not answered at the conference being if that local government is to implement these where will the funding come from and what mechanisms will be used to raise the funding?
Written by John Paddington.