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Netherlands to test autonomous and semi-autonomous cars with motorcycles

Vehicle authorities in the Netherlands will cooperate with European motorcyclists’ organizations and conduct their own test program with different brands of semi-autonomous cars, in order to ensure that driver assistance system recognize the proximity of motorcycles.

In response to a letter sent by FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations), MAG (Motorrijders Actie Groep) NL, and KNMV (Koninklijke Nederlandse Motorrijders Vereniging) motorcyclists’ organizations, sent to the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDW) with regard to the European type approval granted to Tesla by RDW, a meeting took place where the bikers’ worries were addressed. A driver of a Tesla, and of an increasing number of advanced cars, can leave key actions to the vehicle, which, in the opinion of the motorcyclists’ organizations, have not been sufficiently tested with motorcycles and other powered two wheelers. In the discussion about the concerns that motorcyclists have with allowing autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles on the roads, it became clear that many of the concerns of the motorcycling community are shared by RDW.

Drivers of vehicles that use advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as adaptive cruise control (ACC) and lane changing system (LCS), are deemed to always have full control over the vehicle. To support the driver, the car will give a warning, based on input from the sensors, when a collision with a motorcycle is imminent, so that the driver can intervene in time, possibly assisted by the hardware of the car. However, it appears that drivers of such vehicles in many cases already appear to rely fully on the technology and are occupied with things other than traffic. The biking groups question whether the current technology takes sufficient notice of the presence of motorcycles in traffic and is able to adequately intervene and warn the driver in time.

RDW proposes to conduct its own test program with different brands of cars fitted with ADAS. The program will assess the technology to ensure that motorcycles and other powered two wheelers are detected by the cars’ sensors and will respond correctly to the presence of motorcycles. RDW also believes that testing with motorcycles should be part of the test protocol for European type approval. In the first quarter of 2017 the test program will be decided, the organizations will explore what research in the field of testing motorcycles with semi-autonomous cars is already available, and the research questions will be formulated. After that, the field tests will be conducted.

Dolf Willigers, general secretary of FEMA, commented, “We are very pleased with the outcome of this first meeting with the experts of RDW. We are going to act together and we will see in the field tests to what extent the technique takes motorcyclists into account. We want to ensure that motorcyclists literally are not overlooked in the development of the newest generation of cars.”

December 8, 2016

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