Motorcycles will now be considered in European driverless tests in the wake of a female rider being rear-ended by an automated Tesla S under test in Norway.
While the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative is yet to identify the dangers to riders, European authorities have now agreed to cooperate with motorcyclist organisations and conduct their own test program with different brands of semi-autonomous cars.
Tests on these vehicles are now being conducted around the world and legislators are rushing to clear up many of the legal issues.
They see huge economic benefits from automated driving such as tripling road capacity, faster transport and savings on infrastructure. In Australia the savings are estimated at $20 billion a year.
But the economic benefits shouldn’t blind authorities to the dangers of these vehicles to vulnerable motorcycles.
While the driverless technology is getting better, it seems it still has difficulties with small objects on the road such as motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.
The Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations has pointed this out to the European authorities and demanded motorcycles be included in driverless tests.
FEMA acknowledges that advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can provide an added value to road safety, but there are also disadvantages when drivers don’t use it properly and do not and pay sufficient attention to traffic.
The test program will now ensure motorcycles and other powered two wheelers are detected by driverless cars’ sensors and that the technology responds correctly to the presence of motorcycles.
The European test program will be developed in the first quarter of 2017, the organisations will explore what research in the field of testing motorcycles with semi-autonomous cars is already available and the research questions will be formulated.
Following that, field tests will be conducted in 2017.
There is still no word on the inclusion of motorcycles in Australian automated driving tests.
Meanwhile, there is the possibility that riderless motorcycles will also be added to the mix, about five years behind cars, trucks and buses.