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New U.S. Federal Guidelines provide 15 safety rules for self-driving automakers

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【Summary】Federal officials announced for the first time ever a 15 point safety checklist for autonomous car makers on September 19th, 2016, revealing its much-anticipated policy that seemingly gives hope and support to self-driving manufacturers.

Original Lydia    Oct 05, 2016 5:30 PM PT
New U.S. Federal Guidelines provide 15 safety rules for self-driving automakers
Claire Pu

By Claire Pu

Federal officials announced for the first time ever a 15 point safety checklist for autonomous car makers on September 19th, 2016, revealing its much-anticipated policy that seemingly gives hope and support to self-driving manufacturers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's overview document outlining its policy choices begins by unequivocal-ly expressing that the DOT believes "automated vehicles hold enormous potential benefits for safety, mobility and sustainability."

President Barack Obama also wrote an op-ed published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that includes the follow-ing passage:

"Right now, too many people die on our roads – 35,200 last year alone – with 94 percent of those the result of human error or choice. Automated vehicles have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year. And right now, for too many senior citizens and Americans with disabilities, driving isn't an option. Automated vehi-cles could change their lives."

Obama further added that there are not only safety and accessibility benefits, but also corrections to urban congestion and pollution that can come out of self-driving tech. He emphasized that getting there must be han-dled with safety, responsibility, and transparency between the companies creating the technology and Ameri-can citizens.

The President mentioned that Government can often over-regulate when the pace of technology moves too quickly, and this policy is derived to avoid that and provide room for growth and innovation.


Here's a look at the 15-point Safety Assessment the DOT asks for:

1. Carmakers should store and share the driving data with regulators when analyzing reasons behind crash accidents and system breakdowns.

2. Carmakers shouldn't let vehicles collect driver's personal information such as biometrics or behavior.

3. The car designed must respond safely to software malfunctions, near crashes, loss of traction and other risks. Carmakers should get outside validation of their safety systems and prove their cars can operate safely even when technology problems are encountered.

4. The cars should be engineered to prevent online attacks, maintaining digital security.

5. Carmakers must show how their vehicles can safely switch between autopilot and human control, and consider ways to communicate to pedestrians and other cars when the car is in autopilot mode.

6. Driverless cars must meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's regular standards for "crashworthiness," or prove that the vehicles are built to best protect occupants in a crash.

7. Automakers should educate consumers to let them know self-driving car's limitations and capabilities.

8. Any software updates or new driverless features must be submitted to the NHTSA.

9.  Automakers should prove their cars are safe to use again after a crash, with no damaged sensors or safety control systems.

10. The vehicles should follow various state and local laws and practices that apply to drivers.

11. The decisions that a car is programmed related to ethical consequences should be clearly disclosed to NHTSA.

12. Carmakers have to prove their vehicles meet the operational design that they described, regarding to where, when and under what conditions a driverless system works.

13. The car needs to respond safely to all conditions, including normal driving situations and rare circumstances to avoid big surprises and crashes.

14. The car should be able to change modes safely when there is a technological malfunction.

15. Automakers need to develop testing and validation methods that account for the wide range of technol-ogies used in driverless cars.

In an effort to discuss with private sector stakeholders how the policy will impact their work, the Obama admin-istration is hosting a White House Frontiers Conference on October 13th, 2016.

Sources from the New York Times, TechCrunch


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