Unlike anti-lock brake systems (ABS), seat belts, or even airbags, there are no governmental standards for autonomous car systems, technology, or safety. This is because the federal government realizes that legislation or regulation involving self-driving cars might have unintended consequences and stifle development and innovation.
Despite a lack of autonomous-vehicle oversight, General Motors, Ford Motor Co., and Toyota joined with Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International to form the Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium (AVSC). The goal of the consortium is to, according to the AVSC website, “establish safety and testing principles focused on the safe deployment of SAE Level 4 and Level 5 automated driving systems.”
Transportation secretary Elaine Chao has said she has no plans to restrict or regulate autonomous cars. However, she has asked companies to soothe the “public’s legitimate concerns about the safety, security, and privacy of this new technology.” The AVSC aims to do just that.
While it is nice that the federal government is keeping out of the way of technology development, it allows for companies like Tesla to beta-test its latest self-driving technologies on its owners on public roads. No other automaker is as reckless with its autonomous vehicle technology development. Companies like VW test its self-driving cars with specially trained drivers.
Since Tesla receives kudos and not ridicule for its experimental drivers aids, however, it’s unlikely it will join the AVSC.
Hopefully, other legacy automakers (as well as tech brands like Apple and Google) will join GM, Ford, and Toyota in the AVSC. With brands like Daimler and BMW joining forces in the mobility market, it seems as though carmakers are more willing to band together.
There is certainly room to forge basic safety principles in the development and testing of automated driving systems without suppressing breakthroughs. At least GM, Ford, and Toyota believe so.