i3 - November/December 2016 - 54

Policy

By Izzy Santa

T EC H N E WS

What NHTSA's Guidelines Mean
for Self-driving Cars

S

One of the primary issues the NHTSA
guidance aims to address is the division
of responsibilities between federal and
state governments. Through a Model
State Policy, NHTSA explained it has
jurisdiction when 1) the car is the driver
and 2) fully self-driving vehicles do not
require a licensed driver, while states
are responsible for regulating when a
human driver is present. This means that
as more and more driving tasks are
performed by the vehicles themselves,
the federal government's share of oversight will increase.
Hints of greater oversight are seen
in NHTSA's proposed pre-approval
authorization authority, a major
departure from the current system of
manufacturer self-certification. A new
regulatory approval process could cause
delays in getting new vehicles to market,
if NHTSA needs to approve every model
and model year vehicle. The agency is
now seeking industry feedback, and
any subsequent changes would require
Congressional approval.
The new guidelines also include a
15 Point Safety Assessment to help
NHTSA and the public evaluate how
manufacturers and other entities developing and testing self-driving systems
are addressing safety throughout the
process. The assessment, completed
by the equipment manufacturers,
covers areas including data recording
and sharing, privacy, human-machine
interface and object and event detection
54

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016

and response.
including regulators,
Another significant
drivers, passengers and
issue in the dialogue
other road users.
The auto
about self-driving cars
The auto industry is on
industry is
is ethics. These vehicles
the verge of a revolution
on the verge of - technology holds the
will have to make decia revolution -
sions about what to do
power to transform our
based on data they receive
technology
transportation networks.
from cameras, sensors
And the federal
holds the
and other technologies.
government recognizes
power to
A miniscule portion of
the potential mobility
transform our
those decisions may occur
benefits of driverless cars
transportation for seniors and people
in "dilemma situations,"
networks.
where the vehicle may
with disabilities. Thus,
need to protect the safety
the policy framework
of one person at the cost
from NHTSA is a living
of another. The NHTSA
document that needs
guidelines recommend algorithms for
to be updated yearly, providing the
resolving conflicts developed using
flexibility needed to respond to new
input from a range of stakeholders
innovations quickly.
n
I T I S I N N O VAT I O N

JIM WEST/ALAMY

elf-driving vehicles have already logged millions of miles in the U.S. Google testing
alone has covered more than 1.5 million miles across four states. But despite this
success, questions remain about the safety of self-driving cars and who is responsible for oversight, regulations and standards. In September the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency that oversees motor vehicle and
highway safety, provided some clarity and guidance that helps answer these questions.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i3 - November/December 2016

Contents
i3 - November/December 2016 - Cover1
i3 - November/December 2016 - Cover2
i3 - November/December 2016 - Contents
i3 - November/December 2016 - 2
i3 - November/December 2016 - 3
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