New tests targeting bikes, and speed increase for self-driving cars

Autonomous or self-driving vehicles are set for a speed increase, as well as new tests focused on how well they can detect motorcycles.

self driving cars

The United Nations (UN) is set to allow for an increase in speed for the operation of autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles are self-explanatory. In fact, you have almost certainly come across the term and some information regarding their development over the past few years. For brands like Tesla, self-driving is almost a part of their identity, even if the systems are not globally integrated yet. 

As the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations (FEMA) points out, the highest priority when considering autonomous vehicles is the safety of motorcyclists. This is because autonomous cars changing lanes at high speeds can struggle to detect motorcycles due to the way they are tested, which previously has often neglected two-wheelers. 

Back in 2016, FEMA says it "expressed its concern about automated vehicles not being able to detect motorcycles under all circumstances, because at that point advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) were apparently not tested with motorcyclists in mind.” 

This led to research conducted by the Netherlands Vehicle Authority RDW, which discovered that autonomous vehicles could detect motorcycles, but less so when the motorcycle occupied the space at the edges of its lane. “In many tests, action had to be taken by the driver of the car to prevent a collision,” FEMA says.

Until now, the speed limit for the autonomous driving of vehicles has been 60kph. That is now set to increase to 130kph thanks to an amendment to UN Regulation No. 157 adopted by the UNECE’s World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations. The amendment also allows for autonomous lane changes, and is set to be implemented from January 2023.

The regulation also states, according to FEMA, that “all test that need to be conducted for a system like ALKS (Automated Lane Keeping System) or LCP (Lane Change Procedure), have to be carried out with a passenger car target as well as a powered two-wheeler target.” 

This means that, although the autonomous technology is able to operate at a higher speed, the safety for bikers when approaching an autonomous vehicle should now be improved, because their ability to detect motorcycles should be improved.

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