In the wake of several accidents and calls for additional oversight, regulators are beginning to recognize the need to develop policies around Autonomous Vehicles (AV) and how they will be required to operate in the public sphere.
Over the past five years, a growing number of companies from a variety of sectors of the technology and transportation industries have developed autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles. Companies such as Waymo, Tesla, and even non-AV manufacturers such as Volvo and Audi introduced their versions of AVs, whether in testing modes or fully outfitted to operate on shared roadways. While these vehicles have been designed with various purposes, capacities, and functions, all share the same goal: to enable human passengers to effectively take themselves out of the equation when operating a car on a shared roadway. However, as more AVs have been designed and developed, companies have been eager to put them to the test – and to use – on public streets shared with normal, human driver-piloted cars.
This rush to deploy AVs in the public sphere has led to not only several high-profile accidents, but also a call for regulatory safeguards to be put in place that would create the same level of accountability under which transit systems using bus and rail vehicles must operate. While the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration has recently released new regulations regarding AVs, these rules may not go far enough to safeguard pedestrians and passengers. More research and policy guidance will be needed to ensure the safety of AVs in the public realm.
For more information on TRA’s AV research, check out our white paper here.