Whoa Nellie–Delays in the Smart Horseless Carriage

smart city and wireless communication network, abstract image visual, internet of things

In the just released NCHRP Research Report 1001/BTSCRP Research Report 2, a new framework provides government and non government parties and other stakeholders a tool for the assessment and risk management for emerging automated driving system (ADS) technologies.

This Framework for Assessing Potential Safety Impacts of Automated Driving Systems reminds this reader with a sense that the challenge here is similar to other complex critical systems such as health care and energy.  This should not be surprising given the huge global ground transportation sector.

ADS Maturity

Maturity Models are useful tools helping management and others assess organizational processes and the value standardization can provide all stakeholders.  Likewise, the ADS Maturity Model follows a similar path of the established ones such as Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI).

According to the automotive authority, J.D. Power Driving Automation Maturity Model contains these six steps (in reverse order):

5 – Full Driving–Vehicle is self contained as an autonomous operation.

4 – High Driving–Requires no human driver and most likely be used within geofence boundaries.

3 – Conditional Driving–Significant step up this level incorporates various systems including Artificial Intelligence (AI).  As of 2021, these level of automation was not approved in the United States.

2 – Partial Driving–Vehicles with Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) but still requires the driver to  remain engaged.

1 – Driver Assistance–Vehicle contains one or more systems designed to help steerage and/or braking etc.

0 – No Driving Automation–No automation, driver entirely operates the vehicle.

While there are some test exceptions, if as noted, Level 2 is the highest approved to date and the step to Level 3 is a big one, it appears we have a ways to go before any of us see an autonomous vehicle.  Not sure were we are on the Gartner Hype Cycle but likely there is some distance to go.


Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) have been around for years.  Typically, SEMS requirements are usually integrated into Operations Management Systems.

In this pundit’s opinion, similar integration will incorporate ADS into policies, processes and procedures for each organization.  As with other sectors, a number of Safety Cultures will emerge.  These will need to collaborate with other like minded but somewhat different business and technology models.

The Hype

We are often told that autonomous vehicles will be with us soon.  However, the evidence suggests otherwise.  According to the IT research firm, Gartner ““More than half of the technologies on this Hype Cycle are in the trough , which means that the hard work of commercializing many significant technologies is underway.”  Moreover, many advanced technologies necessary for Level 6 are even less developed.  Many may recall the autonomous breaking problems one manufacturer dealt with just three years ago.  Caveat Emptor in this field, at least for a while.

How willing are you to trust your life to a Smart Vehicle?

For More Information

Please note, RRI does not endorse or advocate the links to any third-party materials herein.  They are provided for education and entertainment only.

The author’s credentials in this field are available on his LinkedIn page.  Moreover, Dr. Shemwell is a coauthor for an in press book (to be released in Spring 2023) titled, “Smart Manufacturing: Integrating Transformational Technologies for Competitiveness and Sustainability.”  His focus is on Operational Technologies.

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” (Martin Luther King speech at Cornell College, 1962).  For more information on Cross Cultural Engagement, check out our Cross Cultural Serious Game.  You can contact this author as well.

For those start-up firms addressing energy (including renewables) challenges, the author is a member of Global Energy Mentors which provide no-cost mentoring services from energy experts.  If interested, check it out and give us a shout.

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