In today’s episode, we have three news stories to share – the driver of a Tesla charged with vehicular manslaughter, we’ll take a look at a few executive vehicle’s impressive skidpad tests and what that means for the security driver, and a new tech venture with Ford and ADT to combat thieves.
So let’s dive in.
Listen to the Podcast
Tesla Driver Charged with Vehicular Manslaughter
California prosecutors have filed two counts of vehicular manslaughter against the driver of a Tesla on Autopilot, who ran a red light, slammed into another car, and killed two people in 2019.
The defendant appears to be the first person charged with a felony in the United States for a fatal crash involving a motorist using a partially automated driving system.
The criminal charges aren’t the first involving an automated driving system, but they are the first to involve a widely-used driver technology. Authorities in Arizona filed a charge of negligent homicide in 2020 against a driver Uber had hired to take part in the testing of a fully autonomous vehicle on public roads. The Uber vehicle, an SUV with the human backup driver on board, struck and killed a pedestrian.
Criminal charging documents do not mention Tesla Autopilot. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which sent investigators to the crash, confirmed last week that Autopilot was in use in the Tesla at the time of the crash.
Jonathan Handel, a lecturer in law at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law and an expert in autonomous vehicles, said the case would hopefully show that semi-autonomous systems, like Autopilot, are not a replacement for human drivers.
You would think that this statement does not need to be made. Still, the NHTSA has issued a statement saying no vehicle on sale can drive itself whether or not a car is using a partially automated driving system, “every vehicle requires the human driver to be in control at all times. The NHTSA added that all state laws hold human drivers responsible for the operation of their vehicles. Though automated systems can help drivers avoid crashes, the technology must be used responsibly.”
Over the past few years, we have been writing and preaching about terms such as Autopilot and Hands-Free Driving. We have a previous podcast episode and article covering the “Human Driver.” You can find links to both in our show notes.
Read More – The Dynamic and Human Driving Tasks
This is an excerpt from the article:
“In all our 48 years in the profession, we would have never thought or considered that the automotive engineering community would be required to define how humans and computers interact while driving a vehicle. A human interacting with the vehicle computers, specifically the ADAS, is called the human driving task.”
We suggest that all professional security drivers and secure transportation providers read the section in the article titled the Human Driving and Dynamic Driving tasks in relation to autonomous driving
This Won’t be the Last Time
What you can take away from all this is that if you are using Hands-Free Driving or Autopilot and are involved in a fatal collision, saying, “The car did it, not me.” It could get you sued or worse.
This may be the first time felony charges have been brought after a fatal crash involving Autopilot or other self-driving technology, but we are confident it won’t be the last.
All you need to do is watch TV commercials selling the idea that no hands on the wheel is a benefit. These ads showing drivers removing their hands from the steering wheel are irresponsible. As a recent article pointed out, “Unless and until self-driving systems become as safe as elevators, a word to the wise is: drive as if your life depends on it. Because your life, and that of other drivers on the road with you, is in your hands, not the tender ministrations of some machine. Guide yourselves accordingly.”
Marketing While Driving
Keep in mind as a professional security driver or secure transportation provider; you are paid to drive the vehicle. This lawsuit will have a far-reaching effect on the profession.
We have seen posts on social media suggesting that a Security Driver should disable some Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) functions. But before you decide to remove the ADAS functionality, use caution. In light of this case, it can be problematic. If you have an accident that could have been prevented by the ADAS that was disabled and there is an injury or worse to another party, you could be looking at criminal charges.
Automotive algorithms are designed to keep the average driver safe, and data indicates that it is working, but history has shown that you cannot write an algorithm that eliminates stupidity. Like the Chevy Silverado ad that shows a driver taking their hands off the steering wheel as they are clapping to the music. As crazy as this may sound, no law requires a driver to have two hands on the steering wheel. But because it is not illegal does not make it safe the same with video recording hands-free while driving; it may not be illegal, but it is dangerous.
Some professionals might say that this is not a problem within the security profession. But, the following is for no purpose other than to prevent a life-altering tragedy. Some practitioners use a moving vehicle as a classroom or as a method of marketing their training or services. They post a video of themselves talking into a camera mounted somewhere in the vehicle. At times to make his point, he takes his hands off the steering wheel and turns his head to look directly at the camera.
Keep in mind that as a professional driver, you are being paid to drive the car, but you cannot avoid the vehicle’s algorithms. As a professional security driver understand and train to work with the algorithm.
Impressive Skidpad Tests for Executive Vehicles
We noted with interest a recent article in Car and Driver magazine concerning the 2022 Mercedes Benz S 500. Along with many of its other attributes, the S500 managed to navigate the skidpad test at .92 Gs. The Skidpad test is driving in a circle with a known radius and increasing the speed until the driver cannot keep the car on the radius. Then they take the MPH number and apply it to a relatively simple equation that determines the vehicle cornering power measured in Gs, which is lateral acceleration.
The S500 is not the only executive vehicle with an impressive skidpad number. Here are the numbers for some other Executive Vehicles.
- The Audi A8 – .93 gs,
- BMW – .88 gs,
- Bentley Flying Spur – .98 gs,
- Cadillac CT 5 – .93 gs
We are mentioning the high cornering power of these vehicles to point out that not too long ago, an executive vehicle that had this level of handling capability was unheard of. Skidpad numbers in the .9 Gs were reserved for sports cars back then.
Many years back, the Scotti School, through their website SecurityDriver.Com looked at executive vehicles and would develop the Executive Car of the Year Award (ECOTY). In fact, we had two awards, the Domestic Executive Car Of The Year (DECOTY) and the Foreign Executive Car Of The Year (FECOTY). Years back, you would not find a U.S. company driving a foreign car; back then, it was our opinion the vehicles selected were the best available for the environment they drove through.
Also, an interesting point is that when we first started the ECOTY awards, there was no need to have an SUV category – few, if any, corporations used them as “executive vehicles.”
When we first created the ECOTY award, a vehicle had to have a minimum skidpad handling number of .7 G’s to qualify. So when you look at the vehicles used today for secure transportation, the handling numbers have increased by close to 40%. So if we define Executive Vehicles as sedans, not SUVs, this also means that today’s Executive Vehicles capability has also risen by more than 40%.
Taking this to the next level. We define driving skill as the driver’s ability to use the vehicle’s capability. If the vehicle capability has gone up by 40 %, the modern security driver has that much more vehicle capability to get themselves out of a problem.
The skidpad numbers are a good measurement of vehicle handling capability. But that was just one of the measurements we used in the ECOTY test to determine the vehicle handling capability.
In an emergency, there is a substantial difference between the numbers presented via the Skidpad versus the numbers obtained from an exercise such as the Lane Change.
For the Lane Change test, the Scotti School used the ISO 3888 -2 Lane Change Standard. This standard is used to measure a vehicle’s capability to avoid an accident.
The bottom line is that the modern Executive Sedan has far more capability than its predecessors.
Canopy Vehicle Protection System
Ford and ADT launch Canopy to provide AI-powered connected security cameras and a corresponding mobile app for a variety of vehicle makes and models.
Offerings will integrate the Safe by ADT platform to provide professional monitoring and help businesses protect valuable work equipment in vehicles and individual owners strengthen security inside and outside vehicles.
Canopy plans to launch industry-first, multi-sensor security systems with available professional monitoring early next year. The first products to be manufactured and sold will be available in the U.S. and the U.K. for the industry’s highest-volume commercial and retail pickups, and vans – including the Ford F-150, F-150 Lightning, Transit vans and E-Transit – and will be easily installable by customers to protect expensive work and recreational equipment.
The FBI estimates1 that stolen work equipment cost more than $7.4 billion in 2020 in the U.S., and theft of valuable work equipment is believed to be underestimated in stolen vehicle reports. Small business owners face even greater opportunity costs with the deferral or loss of jobs while replacing stolen items.
“Thieves have been even more active during the pandemic and know business owners store valuable equipment in vehicles, often hauling more than $50,000 of gear.
How it works
Canopy’s first smart vehicle security system accessory offering will make use of acoustic sensors for vans, onboard cameras, radar, LTE, and GPS. The initial product will have a camera that can be mounted in either a van’s cargo area or on a pickup facing the bed. The platform will use AI technology to identify and report credible threats while reducing false alarm signals.
Customers will be connected to the system via the Canopy app to livestream video from the vehicle, get notified of suspicious activity, or review past events.
The system will trigger a smartphone alert of any indicators of potential criminal activity, such as breaking glass, metal cutting, or suspicious motion or sound near the vehicle.
Customers can warn potential thieves they are being monitored by speaking through the smartphone app, enabled by a two-way audio feature that will be available by next year.
The system’s AI is designed to distinguish true threats from benign acts – such as a cat jumping into a pickup bed or construction sounds near a vehicle – before alerting the owner or ADT monitoring agents of potential theft.
The system will alert ADT monitoring professionals if it detects a person loitering around or breaching the vehicle.
ADT monitoring agents can then contact customers, fleet managers, or police to take additional measures to help prevent theft.
In future updates, credible threats will trigger additional responses, including audible alerts, programmable voice recordings, and two-way audio.
The Canopy products will be sold through vehicle dealerships, major retailers, and online. Ford Pro will be an important launch partner delivering these solutions to commercial and government customers of all sizes.