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8 November, 2018 - 11:12 By Tony Quested

FiveAI supports world first autonomous driver training course

Cambridge autonomous vehicles innovator, FiveAI, is using a world first training programme devised by a Bedford-based partner in trials of its technology on public roads.

Currently raising fresh millions, FiveAI has hired some of the best minds on the planet in AI, engineering and mobility to deliver a fully autonomous shared transport service for Europe’s cities.

FiveAI VP for product, Ben Peters, told Business Weekly that the independent autonomous driver training course for CAV (connected autonomous vehicle) development and testing – launched by CAT Driver Training – was integral to its road testing programme.

Peters said: “CAT DT has worked closely with FiveAI to deliver a bespoke defensive driver training programme to our core safety drivers and engineers.

“With FiveAI's support, CAT was able to tailor the training to cover the unique situations that apply to safety drivers supervising an autonomous vehicle on public roads. The independent driver training and assessment provided by CAT is an essential component of our overall road trial safety management.”

CAT now expects widespread uptake of its driving course for driverless car developers.

A spokesperson said: “Despite the heavy coverage of self-driving cars in the media, the driver training of the AI specialists, engineers and safety drivers is a surprisingly undiscussed yet important aspect of CAV development.

“Autonomous systems developers and car manufacturers are shaping the future of transport in the UK. Their immediate and increasing global requirement to test and develop these autonomous vehicles on the public highway, is driving a quantifiable and necessary shift in how risk is assessed and mitigated.

“All driverless cars tested on public roads must have a vehicle operator in the car ready to take over controls in an emergency or situation outside the system’s capabilities.

“Studies carried out have demonstrated how challenging it is for safety drivers to stay alert and respond quickly when potential hazards appear.

“The need for specialist driver training is evident. Safety drivers need to be equipped with the skills necessary to maintain the highest level of concentration and risk assessment when not in control of the vehicle, as well as the capability to handle the car effectively in such a situation.”

The Autonomous Driver Training course has been developed by CAT’s chief instructor Colin Hoad who has over 40 years engineering experience.

He explains: “Training a car how to drive itself is no mean feat – considerations go way beyond the basic functionality of controlling the vehicle.

“It is vital that the impressive technology and machine learning that educates autonomous systems, does not overshadow the necessity for driverless cars to be developed using industry level advanced driving expertise.

“For autonomy to truly revolutionise our transport infrastructure, self-driving cars need to not only meet, but surpass the standards of the everyday driver we encounter on our roads.

“Driving Intelligence is the missing piece of the self-driving puzzle. By uniting the testing and valuation practices of today with vehicle dynamic driving principal; our training optimises existing CAV development projects to produce the most advanced driver of tomorrow.”

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