Academic to Develop Autonomous Vehicle Test Methodologies

Original article was published on Communications of the ACM – Artificial Intelligence

By University of Warwick
May 14, 2020
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University of Warwick's Siddartha Khastgir

Questions of safety hinder autonomous vehicle commercialization, says University of Warwick’s Siddartha Khastgir.

Researchers at the University of Warwick will develop safety test methodologies for autonomous vehicles thanks to a seven year U.K. Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship awarded to Siddartha Khastgir, worth £1.2m (USD$1.46 million).

Connected autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology prototypes have existed for some time, however questions from the public and industry about the safety of the technology has blocked commercial development.

The future with CAV has to be more reliable, more efficient, and less risky. Safety testing is essential to informing people’s opinions.

In order to prove that CAVs are safer than human drivers, it’s been suggested they need to be driven for more than 11 billion miles. This underlines the importance of focusing on the experiences of the CAV to identify any failures.

Khastgir’s fellowship will develop pioneering testing methodologies and international standards to enable robust and safe use of CAV, particularly focusing on creating both fundamental knowledge and applied research methods and tools.

The University of Warwick has created a concept of the “evaluation continuum” for CAV, which involves using various environment like digital world, simulated environment, test track testing, and real-world for testing.

There are two aspects which are common to each of the evaluation continuum environments and also the focus areas of the fellowship research:

  1. Test Scenarios: Exposing failures of the CAV
  2. Safety Evidence: Establishing how safe is safe enough?

As a part of this fellowship, three approaches will be explored to identify the smart miles which expose any CAV failures including:

  • Using Machine Learning-based methods including Bayesian Optimization to create test cases for test scenarios;
  • Safety Of The Intended Functionality (innovative safety analysis of CAV) based test scenarios using Systems Theoretic Process Process Analysis;
  • ·Translating real-world data into executable test scenarios for a simulation tool.

All these approaches will together contribute to the creation of a U.K. National CAV Test Scenario Database. Khastgir has previously written about enabling British CAV deployment and the role of standards for the British Standards Institute, and hopes to build on the Fellowship research outcomes to build standards for national and international purposes.

“The global connected and autonomous vehicles industry is estimated to be worth over £50bn [USD$60.95 billion] by 2035, with the U.K. CAV industry comprising over £3billion of this,” Khastgir says. “However, questions around safety are always raised, by the automotive industry and the public. This hinders the process of commercialising CAVs.

“However my UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship to research the safety of CAVs can help Department for Transport, the automotive industry, and the public to be reassured that they are safer than human drivers,” Khastgir says.

“I am incredibly grateful for the UKRI Future Leader Fellowship, as it puts the U.K. and the University at the forefront for research and development into the safety of CAVs.”

Margot James, Executive Chair at WMG, University of Warwick adds: “WMG is very proud that Dr. Siddartha Khastgir has been awarded a prestigious UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. Through Siddartha’s research we can enable the U.K. to become a world leader in safe CAV deployment.”

Kirsty Grainger, Director, Future Leaders Fellowship Scheme adds: “Dr. Siddartha Khastgir is taking forward a really exciting project that supports the government’s Future of Mobility grand challenge. Through the Future Leaders Fellowships we’re not only delivering cutting edge research like this, but also investing in the individuals who have the potential be leading researchers and innovators in years to come. I am delighted that Dr. Khastgir is part of the program.”


 

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