The new federal automated vehicles policy (116-page / 1.30MB PDF) is designed to “help the private sector get this technology right from the start”, US president Barack Obama said in an article for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The safety assessment manufacturers will be asked to undertake will initially be voluntary but may be made mandatory in future, according to the new policy, which has been issued alongside a new template policy for US states aimed at encouraging them to update their legal frameworks to support the development, testing and use of autonomous vehicles.
Manufacturers undertaking a safety assessment in line with the new guidelines will be expected to report on 15 separate aspects of their autonomous vehicle.
The guidelines address issues such as the way in which driverless cars record “event, incident, and crash data” for the purposes of finding the cause of “malfunctions, degradations, or failures”. They also require manufacturers to respect privacy rights with the data gathered by autonomous vehicles and also address matters of system safety, crashworthiness, cybersecurity, interactions between drivers and the systems powering autonomous vehicles and ethical issues.
The policy is open to consultation for 60 days and it is intended that it will be updated annually.
Obama said: “Regulation can go too far. Government sometimes gets it wrong when it comes to rapidly changing technologies. That’s why this new policy is flexible and designed to evolve with new advances.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will regulate autonomous vehicles on the road in the US. It has published updated enforcement guidelines (17-page / 84KB PDF) relating to driverless cars which, among other things, state that manufacturers could be required to recall driverless cars if their failure to apply security updates to car software poses “an unreasonable risk to safety”.
“Motor vehicle and motor vehicle equipment manufacturers have a continuing obligation to proactively identify safety concerns and mitigate the risks of harm,” the NHTSA said in its new guidance.
“If a manufacturer discovers or is otherwise made aware of any safety-related defects, non-compliances, or other safety risks after the vehicle and/or equipment (including automated safety technology) has been in safe operation, then it should promptly contact the appropriate NHTSA personnel to determine the necessary next steps. Where a manufacturer fails to adequately address a safety concern, NHTSA, when appropriate, will address that failure through its enforcement authority,” it said.
Earlier this year the UK government said it plans a “rolling programme of regulatory reform” to support the adoption of autonomous vehicles. It has identified changes to motor insurance and road traffic laws as among its initial priorities which were outlined in a consultation published by the government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV).
The government has already established a code of practice for testing driverless cars in the UK, and some trials have already taken place and further are planned, including by Swedish car manufacturer Volvo.
“What the US government has announced is essentially an up-to-date and consolidated version of the materials the UK government has announced over the past couple of years relating to the development, testing and use of autonomous vehicles,” expert in robotics and the regulation of driverless cars Ben Gardner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said.
“It is clear, from the model state policy it has produced, that the US government is eager to harmonise the legal framework for driverless cars across the 50 states in the country to provide manufacturers with confidence that they will not face different, potentially conflicting, legal obligations when their vehicles cross state lines. This problem is not something manufacturers have to worry about in the UK,” he said.
Gardner said the UK could learn lessons from the approach promised by the US NHTSA to help manufacturers of driverless cars overcome regulatory uncertainty.
“The NHTSA has said it will provide developers with the chance to obtain simple interpretations of regulatory issues concerning highly automated vehicles within 60 days and that it will rule within six months on requests filed for exemptions from regulatory requirements for those vehicles,” Gardner said. “As the legal and regulatory framework around driverless cars is so complicated, C-CAV should consider whether similar services should be provided to manufacturers keen on testing and developing driverless cars in the UK. This could help make the country a more attractive place for manufacturers to conduct those activities.”
article is care of out-law and can be found here http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2016/september/new-us-policy-on-driverless-cars-sets-15-point-safety-assessment-for-manufacturers/