On July 2, 2019, 11 companies (Aptiv, Audi, Baidu, BMW, Continental, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Here, Infineon, Intel, and Volkswagen) published a 157-page whitepaper (“Safety First For Automated Driving“) describing a framework for the development, testing, and validation of “safe” autonomous vehicles. The whitepaper summarizes the various levels of automated driving with the goal of developing a baseline that might one day become an industry standard. To this end, the whitepaper advocates 12 guiding principles of automated driving, including:
- Safe operation
- Operational design domain
- Vehicle operator-initiated handover
- User responsibility
- Vehicle-initiated handover
- Interdependency between vehicle operators and automated driving systems (ADS)
- Safety assessment
- Data recording
- Passive safety
- Behavior in traffic
- Safe layer
Of personal interest, and was discussed at length at the recent AV crash scenario mini-trial that occurred at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in Orlando in July 2019, was the whitepaper’s examination and description of maneuvers intended to minimize risk in the event a driver doesn’t comply with a takeover request, along with verification and validation tests intended to ensure that certain safety goals are met.
The whitepaper also discussed cybersecurity, which is at the forefront for several U.S. lawmakers who are currently considering the AV Start Act 3.0.
Notably missing from the consortium were Waymo, Cruise Automation, Zoox, Tesla, Aurora, Pony.ai, Nvidia, and Yandex. The coalition indicated that they were open to any party who wanted to participate, and participation from any member was voluntary. Perhaps the reason why Waymo didn’t participate in this group is because it, along with Ford, Lyft, Uber, and Volvo, have a coalition of their own – the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets – that launched in April 2016.
With all the various companies engaging in AV studies and trials, it seems worth mentioning once again that without strong federal legislation on the issue, companies in the AV space will continue to set their own guidelines and rules for safety.