Episode 152 – Security Driver Algorithm and Training

Hello, and welcome to episode 152 of the EPST podcast. I’m your host Larry Snow.

The topic of this week’s episode is Security Driving Algorithm and Training.

For more than 45 years, we have been using the Security Driver’s Triangle to describe the threat associated with secure transportation.

A Quick Refresher – The Security Driver Triangle

Driving, any form of driving, is a balance, and that balance is called the “driving system.” The driving system consists of three components: THE DRIVER, THE MACHINE, and THE ENVIRONMENT. If there is an accident or a successful ambush, it is caused by a failure of the Triangle, the driver, the vehicle, or the environment failed.

You can learn more about the Triangle at the end of the article.

The Vehicle Side of the Triangle is Changing

With the advent of Electronic Stability Control (ESC), there is a significant change in the Triangle’s Vehicle side. Those changes also flow over to the Driver portion of the Triangle.

All Executive Vehicles are equipped with ESC; therefore, we need to examine the challenges that vehicles equipped with ESC create for Secure Transportation, Protective Driver Training, and the Security Driver, and it should go without saying. Still, students must be trained in vehicles that are equipped with ESC. If not, it is negative training. How the students’ skills are measured, the design of scenario-based driving exercises, plus a host of other training points change with ESC equipped vehicles.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Basics

For those who have lost control of a car, we know that it’s that first twitch of the vehicle that tells us that we are about to have an exciting experience. That twitch is information the car is sending to us. For some, interpreting this information is second nature, and for others, it’s like trying to understand Swahili. That sinking feeling we get in our stomach is the car telling us that it’s not going where we want it to go, but it is going in a path that it wants to go.

The value of ESC is that it interprets the information, in most cases, before the average driver (the crucial word is “average”) – or even the above-average driver can sense the problem. All executive vehicles are equipped with a computer that monitors the information the driver inputs to the vehicle. Once the ESC computer analyzes the driver’s inputs to the vehicle, it starts to set the car on the correct path before the “average driver” can figure out what’s going on. At the moment, the ESC takes over control of the vehicle – the driver and their passengers are at the mercy of the ESC computer Algorithm.

When conducting Protective Driver Training, there is a crucial time in the algorithm where the ESC computer will control the vehicle. This transition is called “the switch,” and must be monitored and coached by the training providers.

The Security Driving Algorithm

As we mentioned, the ESC will take control from the driver at some point in a protective driving program. An algorithm within the ESC computer controls that take over point (the switch). At that moment, the vehicle’s control is “switching” from a human to a computer. All in accordance with the algorithm.

The definition of an algorithm is a formula or set of steps for solving a particular problem. The issue is the words “particular problem.” The algorithm design is to solve “problems” concerning safety, not necessarily security. More on this later.

The Ambush Algorithm

All accidents or security scenarios are an algorithm. A significant component of the security driver algorithm is familiar to all Scotti School and VDI students – it is the driver’s equation. LA = (V x V)/(Rx15), where LA is the amount of force exerted on the vehicle’s center of gravity. V is the velocity of the vehicle (in MPH). R is the path the vehicle takes measure in feet.

Electronic Stability Control accomplishes this by using the existing ABS and Traction Control computers, plus additional sensors called Yaw Sensors, to monitor what the car is doing after the driver tells it what to do. By measuring throttle position (V in the Driver’s Equation), steering wheel angle (R in the Driver’s Equation), and lateral acceleration (LA in the Driver’s Equation), which is (the amount of G’s pushing on the center of gravity of the vehicle) the computer compares the intended path of the vehicle to the path the car is actually taking. If it’s not doing what you want it to do or not in the best interest of the passengers’ safety, the ESC computer takes over. When ESC decides to handle the driving chores, it applies one of the front brakes, or in some systems, one of the front and/or rear brakes, to straighten the car and put it back on the path you wanted to go.

The ESC algorithm takes control (the switch) when the driver and the vehicle go into what engineers refer to as the vehicle’s nonlinear range (NLR). The NLR is the point where the force on the center of gravity of the car increases exponentially with every small movement of the steering wheel or small inputs in speed; this is the point where the vehicle’s computer algorithm takes over control of the car – this is the switch point.

The Switch Point

The switch point, the switch from human to a computer controlling the vehicle, is becoming a science all unto itself. From the training perspective, this change from human to computer needs to be managed; training scenarios need to be designed to create the switch, and instructors need to know how to measure the driver’s response to the switch. The instructor must know when, wherein the exercise, and at what speed the switch will occur before the driver enters the exercise. The switch needs to be monitor, instructed, measured, and made into a teaching point.

The Switch – Security Versus Safety

When the computer takes over the vehicle, it’s not making decisions based on security; the computer makes decisions based on what the algorithm says the vehicle’s path should be. In a security scenario, the computer’s path wants you to drive, and the path the driver will need to avoid a security incident may not be the same. The vehicle can supply the safety algorithm – but the driver’s mind and eye working with their skill, knowledge, and experience are the security algorithm. The question that the ESC algorithm cannot answer; is the switch due to a safety or a security event. The algorithm can’t make that decision. The individual holding on to the steering wheel has to control the security algorithm.

Security Driver Triangle https://isdacenter.org/security-driver-triangle/


That’s it for this week. I hope you will join us next week for another episode of the EPST podcast. Show notes for this episode are available at the SecurityDriver.Com website. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Google, and any of the podcast apps as the show is widely distributed.

If you’ve enjoyed this EPST podcast episode, we invite you to check out the International Security Driver Association.  The ISDA is a valuable resource for all practitioners working in the protection profession. We offer benchmark educational, networking, and marketing programs—access to the encyclopedia of executive protection and secure transportation – The ISDA knowledge center. The knowledge shared encompasses a wide range of EP and ST focused topics with resources, information, and metrics.

For more information on all of the member benefits, head over to https://isdacenter.org.

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