In order to reduce accidents, we need to ensure that a self-driving car always behaves in a safe manner. The FUSE project, concluded in 2016, made some pioneering contributions in defining which issues need to be resolved in order to demonstrate the safety of a self-driving car, and also contributed results for some of these issues.
Not only did the project deliver a number of results. It also pioneered a methodology based on determining which subsidiary issues needed to be resolved in order to demonstrate the safety of a self-driving car. The results included general systematic methods for ensuring that all possible risks have been allowed for and that all safety requirements have been fully refined in the electronic architecture that implements the autonomous drive intelligence.
Some of the project's results run counter to what the general public perceives as accepted truths.
The car does not have to tell the driver which automation mode it is in at a given time (self-driving or conventional). The car and driver must be in agreement, so handover needs to follow a multi-step procedure where the agreement is clearly established for both parties. Let the driver be the party that executes the last step in this procedure and therefore the party that tells the car that mode changeover is definitely happening.
The moral dilemma termed "the trolley problem"* does not create problems for self-driving cars. On the contrary, the moral dilemmas that already confront the safety systems of today can now be resolved. For more information on this, see the article "Disarming the Trolley Problem - Why Self-driving Cars do not Need to Choose Whom to Kill".
The sensor systems do not have to focus on reporting the type of object they see, but rather on the nature of the particular object whose presence they are observing at this very moment. Different kinds of objects differ as to how dangerous they are if the car collides with them. A collision with a vulnerable road user would be extremely dangerous even at low speeds, as would a collision with a car at higher speeds, for instance. But a collision with a mouse? Practically never. The area in front of the car is rarely completely empty (insects, small birds, etc.). From a safety perspective, the most important thing is to ensure no dangerous collisions take place; i.e. depending on speed and distance, to be certain about the presence of certain types of object. For more information, see the article "The Need for an Environment Perception Block to Address all ASIL Levels Simultaneously".
The project has attracted a lot of attention at both national and international level. Among other things, this has involved 16 academic publications and around the same number of invited guest presentations. In addition, the project has been involved in organising seven different workshops where issues and results were debated with other actors. In 2017, together with Volvo AB, Autoliv, Delphi and Systemite, the original project participants started the ESPLANADE project extension, with the aim of being able to demonstrate the safety of self-driving vehicles to allow them to be placed on the market.