The United States Department of Transportation, in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has rolled out new guidelines for self-driving cars, with the policies looking to set the stage for safe testing and deployment of the driverless vehicles.
The guidelines are discussed in a 116-page document that is described to be "the most comprehensive national automated vehicle policy that the world has ever seen." Among the contents of the guidelines is a new requirement for automobile manufacturers, tech companies and other firms involved in self-driving car technology to submit a safety assessment letter to the NHTSA.
The 15-point safety assessment included in the official guidelines will help the agency and the public determine whether the self-driving car or system is safe enough to be allowed on the streets.
Here are the 15 points in a nutshell:
Date Recording And Sharing
The companies behind the technology should be able to store the data collected by self-driving cars and share it with regulators, in the event of the vehicle being involved in a system breakdown or an accident.
Owners of self-driving cars should know the specific data being collected by the vehicles and should be able to reject the collection of personal information.
In case of system malfunctions and other such issues, the vehicles should be able to respond safely. Companies will be required to prove that their cars and platforms will be safe even when such problems occur.
The self-driving cars should be able to repel attacks launched by hackers. Companies will be required to share the programming decisions and security testing that they carry out to all other firms.
Self-driving cars should be able to safely switch from autopilot into human control. Methods for the vehicles to inform pedestrians that they are in autopilot should be considered, and self-driving cars should also be created for disabled persons.
The design of the self-driving cars should be able to protect its occupants in the event of a crash, as with the regular standards of the NHTSA for vehicles.
Consumer Education And Training
Sales representatives and other staff members should be highly knowledgeable about the technology so that they can pass on the information to distributors and car dealers, who will then forward the training to customers.
Registration And Certification
The NHTSA should be informed of any new features or software updates for self-driving cars and platforms.
After a crash, self-driving cars should be safe for use again. Damaged components should prevent self-driving mode from being enabled.
Federal, State And Local Laws
The self-driving cars should be able to follow the various laws implemented in the country such as speed limits, but should be able to break the laws to prevent possible accidents.
Companies should disclose to the NHTSA the programming on how self-driving cars will operate in a variety of situations that call for ethical decisions.
Operational Design Domain
Companies will have to prove that self-driving cars are tested and validated to operate under the conditions that the companies claim.
Object And Event Detection And Response
The NHTSA will need to know how a self-driving car or system has been programmed to detect objects and events, and the response that the vehicle or platform will make.
Fall Back (Minimal Risk Condition)
While self-driving cars should be able to safely change modes in case of a system malfunction, they should also detect if the condition of the driver is good enough to pass control to him or her.
Companies should develop tests for their technology, which includes simulations and on-road driving.