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Trek are working with a Detroit-based Tome to develop technology that will alert drivers of a cyclists' presence and vice versa

Around $1.5 million has been invested into the research so far at the University of Michigan, part-funded by the software company Tome themselves and also the Trek Corporation, with the aim of making cycling safer by allowing cars and bikes to 'talk' to each other using artificial intelligence.  

The suggested products, described by Trek's brand manager Eric Bjorling as "the most important thing happening in cycling right now", would be beneficial to both cyclists and drivers. For cyclists, apps that could be integrated into existing accessories such as lights would be a more attractive proposition rather than forking out for an aftermarket product - the idea would be for the AI to give alerts when the cyclist is approaching areas where there is a high rate of collisions, and also provide information on road surfaces and weather conditions in real-time.  

Bontrager Transmitr Light Set and Wireless Remote - remote.jpg

Bontrager Transmitr Light Set and Wireless Remote - remote.jpg

This isn't Trek's first foray into innovative cycle safety products: shown are the Transmitr remote-controlled lights from their accessories brand Bontrager

For drivers, Tome suggest that their software could be integrated into sat navs - this would warn drivers when cyclists are approaching, which would be particularly useful in bright sunlight or at night when visibility is reduced. It would have to be highly sophisticated to be able to detect when there is simply a high number of cyclists in the vicinity (such as in heavily built-up areas) and when an actual hazard is nearby. It's not clear how the technology would function yet as research is still in its early stages. 

Trek approached Tome first about working together on the project, and it's thought the technology could become even more useful if and when driverless cars become a regular fixture of the road. Bjorling told us: “Historically Trek has been focused on what we as cyclists can do to put ourselves in the best possible position to be recognized by drivers. We are taking the next step and are now actively focusing Trek’s R&D resources in partnership with Tome to impact what a car can do to recognize a cyclist. This is the most important and exciting work being done in the cycling industry today but for us, it’s just the next step on our journey to make cycling safer."

 

 

After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since.  He joined road.cc in 2017, having previously worked for 220 Triathlon magazine. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake. 

29 comments

Avatar
Grahamd [820 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

Avatar
Paul_C [524 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
Grahamd wrote:

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

idiot... now why don't you advocate for mandatory high viz and helmets and lights for pedestrians along with mandatory helmets for the occupants of motor vehicles... after all, if it saves one life it's worth it...

hmmm what's wrong with the good old Mk.1 eyeball? everybody driving has one or two... so why the fsck don't they use them hey?

Avatar
kevvjj [308 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
Grahamd wrote:

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

God I hate this supersillious comment! Let's advocate for no-one walking the streets shall we? Ban people from shopping at Tesco? Remove all cars from the road?  If it saves one life... 

Avatar
Goldfever4 [389 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
Paul_C wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

idiot... now why don't you advocate for mandatory high viz and helmets and lights for pedestrians along with mandatory helmets for the occupants of motor vehicles... after all, if it saves one life it's worth it... hmmm what's wrong with the good old Mk.1 eyeball? everybody driving has one or two... so why the fsck don't they use them hey?

Good lord sir, are you quite alright? What an outburst!

Avatar
DoctorFish [81 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

With those on the streets who seem to like to rugby tackle cyclists (although only if they think the lady is a man), and others who use their vehicles as a weapon, I don't really feel inclined to tell drivers where I am.  And I suspect responsible drivers (like I like to think I am and others on this site are along with many other drivers) can use their eyeballs to see me.

 

Avatar
Grahamd [820 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
kevvjj wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

God I hate this supersillious comment! Let's advocate for no-one walking the streets shall we? Ban people from shopping at Tesco? Remove all cars from the road?  If it saves one life... 

You're the arrogant one. I have not advocated any changes to the way people and vehicles move. These companies are using their own funds in an attempt to provide greater safety systems to protect cyclists, taking account of where there have been some identified risks.

When you fall off your high horse don't have the audacity to rely on any of the safety measures more forward thinking people have provided.

Avatar
Grahamd [820 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
Paul_C wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

idiot... now why don't you advocate for mandatory high viz and helmets and lights for pedestrians along with mandatory helmets for the occupants of motor vehicles... after all, if it saves one life it's worth it... hmmm what's wrong with the good old Mk.1 eyeball? everybody driving has one or two... so why the fsck don't they use them hey?

That I applaud companies looking at cyclists safety makes me an  idiot? The idiot is the one who considers  that there is adequate safety already and has no desire to improve this. 

There have been enough debates on this site about blind spots and how people look to recognise that this is an area that could benefit from technology. To save a life without pissing on your parade or telling people how to live their lives is fine by me.

 

 

Avatar
Goldfever4 [389 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
kevvjj wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

God I hate this supersillious comment! Let's advocate for no-one walking the streets shall we? Ban people from shopping at Tesco? Remove all cars from the road?  If it saves one life... 

I'm sure you won't mind me pointing out that you misspelled 'supercilious'.

 

Anyway, I really don't see why there's so much hostility towards this and Grahamd's comment. What's wrong with hoping for fewer deaths among fellow cyclists? What's wrong with investment into technology that may help keep bicycles on the road as vehicles become increasingly autonomous?

 

I really don't know why people are so aggressive around here.

Avatar
beezus fufoon [973 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
kevvjj wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

God I hate this supersillious comment! Let's advocate for no-one walking the streets shall we? Ban people from shopping at Tesco? Remove all cars from the road?  If it saves one life... 

all pretty good ideas, not sure why other posters are so opposed and calling this aggressive

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1242 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Make cyclists with this technology safer at the expense of others as drivers come to rely o the gadget to prevent collisions.

"Let's cyclists know when cars are there. In towns they are always there in rural areas you can here them.

This is snake oil.

Avatar
reliablemeatloaf [108 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

To those who think this is a good idea:

You want to abandon your personal responsibility to avoid incidents by relying on technology to do it for you.

 You want others to abandon THEIR personal responsibility to avoid incidents by relying on technology to do it for them.

You probably have the "technology" to avoid incidents right now, and so do most people, and they are some of the most highly developed "technologies" ever evolved. They are called "vision" and hearing".

Stop mollycoddling drivers. While cyclists are not without blame, we need drivers to WAKE THE FUCK UP!

 

Avatar
ConcordeCX [560 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

Make cyclists with this technology safer at the expense of others as drivers come to rely o the gadget to prevent collisions. "Let's cyclists know when cars are there. In towns they are always there in rural areas you can here them. This is snake oil.

there won't be any drivers.

There is more and more work being done on smart infrastructure, so all the traffic will be talking to each other and to the road infrastructure. It will be helpful to have bicycles taking part in the conversation, e.g. through things like smart watches, GPS devices on the handlebars, and so on.

The organisations aren't doing it for altruistic reasons or for the good of their immortal souls, or to become your alien overlords, they want to get a slice of the market.

 

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1242 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
ConcordeCX wrote:
wycombewheeler wrote:

Make cyclists with this technology safer at the expense of others as drivers come to rely o the gadget to prevent collisions. "Let's cyclists know when cars are there. In towns they are always there in rural areas you can here them. This is snake oil.

there won't be any drivers.

There is more and more work being done on smart infrastructure, so all the traffic will be talking to each other and to the road infrastructure. It will be helpful to have bicycles taking part in the conversation, e.g. through things like smart watches, GPS devices on the handlebars, and so on.

The organisations aren't doing it for altruistic reasons or for the good of their immortal souls, or to become your alien overlords, they want to get a slice of the market.

 

Interesting take, but I think you're over estimating the pace of technology development. Since 1985 I've been waiting for my overboard, still not invented.

Avatar
ConcordeCX [560 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:
ConcordeCX wrote:
wycombewheeler wrote:

Make cyclists with this technology safer at the expense of others as drivers come to rely o the gadget to prevent collisions. "Let's cyclists know when cars are there. In towns they are always there in rural areas you can here them. This is snake oil.

there won't be any drivers.

There is more and more work being done on smart infrastructure, so all the traffic will be talking to each other and to the road infrastructure. It will be helpful to have bicycles taking part in the conversation, e.g. through things like smart watches, GPS devices on the handlebars, and so on.

The organisations aren't doing it for altruistic reasons or for the good of their immortal souls, or to become your alien overlords, they want to get a slice of the market.

 

Interesting take, but I think you're over estimating the pace of technology development. Since 1985 I've been waiting for my overboard, still not invented.

you're probably right. There's been absolutely no technological development since 1985. What on earth was I thinking?

 

Avatar
beezus fufoon [973 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
reliablemeatloaf wrote:

To those who think this is a good idea:

You want to abandon your personal responsibility to avoid incidents by relying on technology to do it for you.

 You want others to abandon THEIR personal responsibility to avoid incidents by relying on technology to do it for them.

You probably have the "technology" to avoid incidents right now, and so do most people, and they are some of the most highly developed "technologies" ever evolved. They are called "vision" and hearing".

Stop mollycoddling drivers. While cyclists are not without blame, we need drivers to WAKE THE FUCK UP!

 

I'm sure a beeping radar will make an excellent alarm for this very purpose

Avatar
ConcordeCX [560 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
beezus fufoon wrote:
reliablemeatloaf wrote:

To those who think this is a good idea:

You want to abandon your personal responsibility to avoid incidents by relying on technology to do it for you.

 You want others to abandon THEIR personal responsibility to avoid incidents by relying on technology to do it for them.

You probably have the "technology" to avoid incidents right now, and so do most people, and they are some of the most highly developed "technologies" ever evolved. They are called "vision" and hearing".

Stop mollycoddling drivers. While cyclists are not without blame, we need drivers to WAKE THE FUCK UP!

 

I'm sure a beeping radar will make an excellent alarm for this very purpose

this is The Bicycle of Tomorrow!

 

Avatar
davel [2048 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
ConcordeCX wrote:
wycombewheeler wrote:

Make cyclists with this technology safer at the expense of others as drivers come to rely o the gadget to prevent collisions. "Let's cyclists know when cars are there. In towns they are always there in rural areas you can here them. This is snake oil.

there won't be any drivers.

There is more and more work being done on smart infrastructure, so all the traffic will be talking to each other and to the road infrastructure. It will be helpful to have bicycles taking part in the conversation, e.g. through things like smart watches, GPS devices on the handlebars, and so on.

The organisations aren't doing it for altruistic reasons or for the good of their immortal souls, or to become your alien overlords, they want to get a slice of the market.

 

I agree, but I think this is probably the main obstacle.

I think the mother of all standards wars is brewing, with some major, major players doing Their Own Thing and unlikely to want to hop on to a competitor's technology. We have to get through that for driverless cars to be the present, and not just shiny prototypes trying to avoid less smart bin trucks in California or London.

Avatar
kie7077 [934 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

They're already putting collision avoidance systems into vehicles, it should become mandatory in new vehicles. And this would bring us a step closer in law to mandating that all vehicles have autonomous driving capability.

Avatar
Goldfever4 [389 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
ConcordeCX wrote:
wycombewheeler wrote:

Make cyclists with this technology safer at the expense of others as drivers come to rely o the gadget to prevent collisions. "Let's cyclists know when cars are there. In towns they are always there in rural areas you can here them. This is snake oil.

there won't be any drivers.

There is more and more work being done on smart infrastructure, so all the traffic will be talking to each other and to the road infrastructure. It will be helpful to have bicycles taking part in the conversation, e.g. through things like smart watches, GPS devices on the handlebars, and so on.

The organisations aren't doing it for altruistic reasons or for the good of their immortal souls, or to become your alien overlords, they want to get a slice of the market.

Exactly, thank you...

Avatar
crazy-legs [951 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
Grahamd wrote:
Paul_C wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

idiot... now why don't you advocate for mandatory high viz and helmets and lights for pedestrians along with mandatory helmets for the occupants of motor vehicles... after all, if it saves one life it's worth it... hmmm what's wrong with the good old Mk.1 eyeball? everybody driving has one or two... so why the fsck don't they use them hey?

That I applaud companies looking at cyclists safety makes me an  idiot?

It does in this sense.

This is another bit of victim blaming: I'm sorry m'lud, the deceased cyclist did not have one of those beepy things that alerted me to his presence so I just turned left.

Judge: How very dare the cyclist inconvenience you in such a manner by being so reckless as to ride without a beepy thing, case dismissed. We'll be invoicing the family for the bill to wash his blood off your lorry.

Although to be fair I can see it as something for the urban streets of the distant future where autonomous cars are driving themselves around the place and "talking" to traffic lights, other cars etc.

Although again, I suspect that some of this is a drive to get those bloody cyclists off the streets altogether to allow the uninterrupted flow of autonomous cars...

Avatar
Edgeley [521 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Grahamd wrote:
kevvjj wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

God I hate this supersillious comment! Let's advocate for no-one walking the streets shall we? Ban people from shopping at Tesco? Remove all cars from the road?  If it saves one life... 

You're the arrogant one. I have not advocated any changes to the way people and vehicles move. These companies are using their own funds in an attempt to provide greater safety systems to protect cyclists, taking account of where there have been some identified risks.

When you fall off your high horse don't have the audacity to rely on any of the safety measures more forward thinking people have provided.

With respect GrahamD, and without the ad hominem stuff, I think you are wrong.  It is the responsibility of drivers to use all their senses to keep more vulnerable road users safe.  If people start relying on technology, and especially technology that the cyclist has to carry, then it is more likely that your one life saved will be outweighed by the many additional lives lost.

And as others have said, the statistically best way to reduce the number of cyclists killed is to reduce the number of cyclists.   So bringing it down to a simple and single number, even one as innocuous as the one you used, it wrong.

Avatar
Bentrider [39 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Interesting recent article on this very topic...

http://singletrackworld.com/2017/09/the-law-will-be-fixed/

Avatar
beezus fufoon [973 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
Edgeley wrote:
Grahamd wrote:
kevvjj wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

God I hate this supersillious comment! Let's advocate for no-one walking the streets shall we? Ban people from shopping at Tesco? Remove all cars from the road?  If it saves one life... 

You're the arrogant one. I have not advocated any changes to the way people and vehicles move. These companies are using their own funds in an attempt to provide greater safety systems to protect cyclists, taking account of where there have been some identified risks.

When you fall off your high horse don't have the audacity to rely on any of the safety measures more forward thinking people have provided.

With respect GrahamD, and without the ad hominem stuff, I think you are wrong.  It is the responsibility of drivers to use all their senses to keep more vulnerable road users safe.  If people start relying on technology, and especially technology that the cyclist has to carry, then it is more likely that your one life saved will be outweighed by the many additional lives lost.

And as others have said, the statistically best way to reduce the number of cyclists killed is to reduce the number of cyclists.   So bringing it down to a simple and single number, even one as innocuous as the one you used, it wrong.

consider another example - the move from single propeller planes to jet fighters - back in the olden days you could fly your Fokker relatively easily using your human senses and using landmarks to navigate etc. but there comes a point where the ability of the plane far exceeds this capability to the point where modern jet fighters need computer assists just to stay airborne.

you might argue that it is undesirable for motor vehicles to reach such a level and so they should be limited and tailored specifically to the capabilities of a human relying soley on their sensory input - I would argue that ship has already sailed, and that we already have some degree of carnage on our roads specifically because the speed, acceleration, and manoueverability of those vehicles exceeds the capacity of the driver to maintain adequate control over them.

Avatar
Goldfever4 [389 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
Edgeley wrote:
Grahamd wrote:
kevvjj wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

If it saves one life great, wish them all the best with this. Good PR for Trek.

God I hate this supersillious comment! Let's advocate for no-one walking the streets shall we? Ban people from shopping at Tesco? Remove all cars from the road?  If it saves one life... 

You're the arrogant one. I have not advocated any changes to the way people and vehicles move. These companies are using their own funds in an attempt to provide greater safety systems to protect cyclists, taking account of where there have been some identified risks.

When you fall off your high horse don't have the audacity to rely on any of the safety measures more forward thinking people have provided.

With respect GrahamD, and without the ad hominem stuff, I think you are wrong.  It is the responsibility of drivers to use all their senses to keep more vulnerable road users safe.  If people start relying on technology, and especially technology that the cyclist has to carry, then it is more likely that your one life saved will be outweighed by the many additional lives lost.

And as others have said, the statistically best way to reduce the number of cyclists killed is to reduce the number of cyclists.   So bringing it down to a simple and single number, even one as innocuous as the one you used, it wrong.

Indeed, in the current environment there is a responsibility for the pilot of a vehicle to keep other road users safe.

However, one of the horizon threats to road cycling is autonomous vehicles which are expected to communicate to each other using radar, lasers, that kind of thing. If you've got a cyclist on the road that the autonomous vehicles can't communicate with, presumably still dodging dogs and potholes and things, then there is a risk.

I think it's fair that a cycling business is investing in systems that may well keep us on the road in that kind of environment where technology will have taken over the piloting of other vehicles. Isn't that a better angle to protect cyclists and cycling than shaking our fists and saying technology is bad?

Avatar
davel [2048 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
kie7077 wrote:

They're already putting collision avoidance systems into vehicles, it should become mandatory in new vehicles. And this would bring us a step closer in law to mandating that all vehicles have autonomous driving capability.

It's a long way from there to something workable.

There are two main buckets of obstacles, and they're both huge:

Technology. Testing individual collision avoidance systems is basic compared to taking the next step: if you allowed driverless vehicles that are just going for the gaps and trying to avoid collisions they wouldn't go anywhere. Vehicles need to talk to each other. On which platform? Company behaviour regarding standards often results in competing standards (think VHS/Betamax; Blu-ray/HDDVD) when even one or two big players see things and the market slightly differently. This would need agreement between the global car manufacturers for starters. Throw Google and probably Apple into that mix too, and any other Silicon Valley players that might have been keeping their cards close to their chest up to now (FB, Tesla?). All coming together to accept a unified platform, or at least a way of using it...? I can't see past the phrase 'Hell freezing over' at the moment - and if there are competing standards, I can see that getting messy.

Then there's road behaviour. Beyond the largely philosophical 'do you risk the driver/the cyclist/the kid on the pavement' judgement that 'we' seem to think we'll make better than a computer, lets assume the cars are all talking to each other. I can't see how car manufacturers will accept standard behaviours across the board. There are vastly differing driving laws and cultures throughout the world - even from one European country to another. What passing distance do Mercedes settle on giving cyclists in the UK? 1.5m? If BMW said they'd allow for 1m, does it sell more cars to impatient 'drivers'? That's just one conundrum and a minor consideration compared to a company like Tata that would be aiming to sell cars throughout Europe, but also presumably would want its cars to be fairly assertive in Mumbai traffic (assuming motorised rickshaws aren't going away). Could a more aggressive or assertive car become a manufacturer's USP? 

So this isn't just for car and AI manufacturers to sort out - this will need governments and bureaucrats to sweat it out too.

In theory, driverless cars are just round the corner. In practice... 

Avatar
wellsprop [616 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes
Paul_C wrote:

hmmm what's wrong with the good old Mk.1 eyeball? everybody driving has one or two... so why the fsck don't they use them hey?

To be fair, I can't see anything negative about this research.

The MkI human eyeball is the primary instrument for avoiding a collision with another aircraft when gliding/flying under Visual Flight Rule conditions. Like it or not, the same eyeball is part of a larger system (the human) which suffers from a whole host a issues concerning performance.

Humans are also notoriously rubbish at situational awareness (particularly due to target fixiation). FLARM and TCAS being introduced on aircraft has undoubtably saved lives - where the human has been unable to identify a conflict.

I certainly would not be adverse to a situational awareness aid being implimented on vehicles (particularly vans and HGV's which have limited visibility).

The fact Trek are aiding this type of research can surely be no bad thing?

Avatar
ConcordeCX [560 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes
Edgeley]</p>

<p>[quote=Grahamd

wrote:

And as others have said, the statistically best way to reduce the number of cyclists killed is to reduce the number of cyclists.   So bringing it down to a simple and single number, even one as innocuous as the one you used, it wrong.

I don't know where you get that idea from. Recent experience clearly shows a strong 'safety in numbers' effect, where the greater the number of cyclists the fewer the deaths.

Even if that were not the case, reducing the number of cyclists is not the only, or necessarily the best, way to reduce the number of cyclists killed. Riding a bicycle is not inherently dangerous compared to other activities. Any danger arises in the presence of motor vehicles, therefore you can also reduce the number of cyclist deaths by reducing the presence of motor vehicles.

I would possibly go a bit further and say that the danger arises in the presence of human-driven motor vehicles, and the solution is to eliminate the human drivers.

Avatar
wellsprop [616 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Edgeley wrote:

And as others have said, the statistically best way to reduce the number of cyclists killed is to reduce the number of cyclists.   So bringing it down to a simple and single number, even one as innocuous as the one you used, it wrong.

Depends on what statistics you are talking about.

Reducing the sample size (i.e. number of cyclists on the road) will reduce the absolute amount of cyclist KSI's. However, in terms of statistics, the relative amount of KSI's would remain constant as a % of the sample size.

So really, there is no improvement in safety by reducing cyclist numbers.

Avatar
kie7077 [934 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
davel wrote:
kie7077 wrote:

They're already putting collision avoidance systems into vehicles, it should become mandatory in new vehicles. And this would bring us a step closer in law to mandating that all vehicles have autonomous driving capability.

It's a long way from there to something workable.

There are two main buckets of obstacles, and they're both huge:

Technology. Testing individual collision avoidance systems is basic compared to taking the next step: if you allowed driverless vehicles that are just going for the gaps and trying to avoid collisions they wouldn't go anywhere. Vehicles need to talk to each other. On which platform? Company behaviour regarding standards often results in competing standards (think VHS/Betamax; Blu-ray/HDDVD) when even one or two big players see things and the market slightly differently. This would need agreement between the global car manufacturers for starters. Throw Google and probably Apple into that mix too, and any other Silicon Valley players that might have been keeping their cards close to their chest up to now (FB, Tesla?). All coming together to accept a unified platform, or at least a way of using it...? I can't see past the phrase 'Hell freezing over' at the moment - and if there are competing standards, I can see that getting messy.

Then there's road behaviour. Beyond the largely philosophical 'do you risk the driver/the cyclist/the kid on the pavement' judgement that 'we' seem to think we'll make better than a computer, lets assume the cars are all talking to each other. I can't see how car manufacturers will accept standard behaviours across the board. There are vastly differing driving laws and cultures throughout the world - even from one European country to another. What passing distance do Mercedes settle on giving cyclists in the UK? 1.5m? If BMW said they'd allow for 1m, does it sell more cars to impatient 'drivers'? That's just one conundrum and a minor consideration compared to a company like Tata that would be aiming to sell cars throughout Europe, but also presumably would want its cars to be fairly assertive in Mumbai traffic (assuming motorised rickshaws aren't going away). Could a more aggressive or assertive car become a manufacturer's USP? 

So this isn't just for car and AI manufacturers to sort out - this will need governments and bureaucrats to sweat it out too.

In theory, driverless cars are just round the corner. In practice... 

Mostly agree. I'm not sure that we'll ever have fully capable self-driving cars. I don't think that vehicle to vehicle comm's is 100% necessary. Trees, bollards and pedestrians, will they need to have these comms too? Some European countries have well defined distance-passing laws, I think the rest of Europe needs to catch up.

Collision avoidance is a large chunk of what self-driving vehicles need, if they can get collision avoidance working extremely well then they're more than half way towards fully autonomous vehicles. It doesn't sound like it works great yet, the truck used in France's terrorist incident had a collision avoidance system, clearly there's a lot of room for improvement.