Sunday, March 19, 2017

On Autonomous Vehicles in California and More

  • On March 10, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) proposed new regulations for testing and deploying autonomous vehicles that would allow the vehicles to drive on the road without human presence and DMV spokesperson Artemio Armenta said “We have received numerous comments from companies, consumer advocates, local government and stakeholders to promote innovation and address public safety … this is a rule-making process, so the next step is making sure we get this completely right.”
  • Dan Gage, spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said, “With federal statistics confirming that 94 % of all crashes involve driver error, getting more of these new technologies on our roads will help keep drivers safer, while also helping to avoid traffic congestion, reduce fuel use and save time and money,”
  • John M. Simpson, director of the Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project said "The DMV's current self-driving car test regulations set a standard for the nation, requiring a test driver behind a steering wheel who could take over, and vital public reports about testing activities … The new rules are too industry friendly and don't adequately protect consumers … DMV needs to rein in Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and his renegade operations … Explicit truck testing rules are required immediately." 
  • Brian Soublet, DMV deputy director and chief counsel said “Both highway patrol and local areas need to know how to interact with the vehicles, and we’ve put out what we think are minimum standards … They need to understand how to know if the autonomous technology is engaged, how to pull it off the road, and some of the important things [such as] where to find in the vehicle who owns it and who is insuring it.” 
  • Separately, a recent AAA survey of over 1,000 Americans revealed that: 1) 78% are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle, 2) 54% do not want a self-driving vehicle near them while they are on road, but 3) 60% are interested in vehicles with autonomous features, such as automatic braking and self-parking

MY TAKE

  • Recent tests of autonomous vehicles suggest that progress is being made, but safety issues continue to be encountered.
  • In addition, as Brian Soublet has highlighted, there are many dynamics  to address beyond the technology to enable the transition.  
  • Regarding consumer views - autonomous vehicles will improve over time and consumers will be more receptive as they increasingly experience the benefits of this class of technology.

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