IET launches new cross-modal transport report

‘Advancing Autonomy in Transport’, discusses the potential benefits of the transport modes working closely on matters relating to autonomy, such as improved safety, better network efficiency/capacity through enhanced integration and reduced variability in performance.

It explores the various challenges that can be tackled via cross-sector collaboration, such as deciding where responsibility for safety lies as levels of autonomy increase, operating mixed fleets of manned and unmanned vehicles and ensuring legislation keeps up with the rapidly evolving technology.

It also identifies the opportunities that inter-modal working can present in areas such as ethics and skills, and what the next steps could be, including key recommendations for government.

Anna Bonne, Transport Lead at the IET, said: “As vehicles get more complicated so do the systems that run them. New methods and standards for testing autonomous systems are being developed, but there will always be some human error.  Accidents on rail, at sea and in the air are investigated and the faults are rectified. As road vehicles become autonomous, this method of accident investigation should be applied so that individual accidents caused by the same fault are identified.”

The report is an output from the IET’s Cross-Modal Autonomy Working Group, which is made up of experts in autonomy from across the transport modes. The group has developed a programme of work leading up to this publication. This included a workshop that brought together professionals from academia, government and industry – equally divided between road, rail, air and maritime – to discuss the potential advantages of the transport sectors working closely on matters relating to autonomy.

Cross-modal learning in autonomy has been an ongoing topic for the IET in recent years. 

Previous factfile

In 2016, the IET released the precursor to this report ‘Automated Vehicles Cross-modal learning in autonomy’ which tackled the issue on a more sector-by-sector basis.