Technology

New Commission Hopes to Set Rules of Road for Autonomous Car Testing

Securing America’s Future Energy is helping shape the autonomous car discussion with its new Commission on Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Safety, which plans to formulate a set of best practices for self-driving car tests.

The autonomous car space is moving fast. Among the headlines from this week alone:

Uber had journalists test out its self-driving vehicles, which are going to be roaming around Pittsburgh in the days and months to come. The effort came about after the ride-sharing company hired dozens of researchers away from Carnegie Mellon University.

Famed hacker George Hotz, who was the first person to jailbreak an iPhone, revealed his company, Comma.ai, was going to release an autonomous-driving kit, installable on a handful of traditional vehicles, that offers a level of functionality comparable with Tesla’s Autopilot technology. The kit will cost $999, with a $24 monthly subscription for software.

That kind of expansion raises all sorts of questions. The biggest: Where do best practices and safety come into play?

A new industry group could answer that question. The Commission on Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Safety, a new organization tied to Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), would help move the ball forward on issues related to boosting the public’s comfort level with the technology and limiting potential safety risks that could come with the technology.

One reason the technology is worth watching? It could be safer than the current state of affairs.

“Experts believe up to 90 percent of crashes will be eliminated by autonomous technology, but recent polling has shown that the general public remains skeptical of these benefits, with only 35 percent of Americans aware that autonomous vehicles will save lives—reinforcing the need for the Commission’s work,” a SAFE news release stated.

A number of high-ranking auto-industry experts are members of the new commission, including Mark Rosenker, the former commissioner of the National Transportation Safety Board, who will serve as chairman.

“The reality of autonomous vehicles is upon us. Along with this exciting new innovation, however, there are many critical questions which need to be answered while these vehicles are being tested and deployed on open roads,” Rosenker said in the news release.

Other officials with the commission have current or previous ties to General Motors, SAE International, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who served under President Barack Obama, is also a member.

The group plans to release a set of best practices for the industry by the end of the year, Automotive News reports.

Uber's new self-driving vehicle. (Handout photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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