Autonomous cars will change dealers role, says NTSB chairman

Autonomous cars will change dealerês role, says NTSB chairman

–Autonomous driving is going to completely change the dealerês role,” said Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. He was speaking at the SAE International plenary session on smart cities, open to attendees at the Washington Auto Show Industry/Media Day, Jan. 26. SAE International was onsite at the Washington Auto Show where they stage their Government/Industry Conference each year.

–The dealer could face liability if the driver had an accident because he did not understand something in an autonomous car he bought from the dealer,” Hart said.

–The dealership is the place where the training has to occur,” Hart added. –It canêt just be, •Read this 200-page ownerês manual.ê”

Another problem with autonomy, said Carla Bailo, assistant vice president for mobility research and business development at Ohio State University, is that the theory of waking up the human driver to take over driving from the car if something goes wrong is flawed. Studies have shown it can take seven to 20 seconds to wake up a sleeping person. –Sometimes, even with seven seconds, youêre long dead,” Bailo said.

An audience member asked about companies sharing safety improvements, a topic discussed earlier in the week at the MobilityTalks. (See –Standards panel discusses levels of autonomy, need to share info,” page 5.)

–In the airline industry, anybodyês accident is everybodyês accident,” said Hart. –Safety should be a given rather than a point of comparison.” Like Bernard Soriano of the California DMV earlier in the week, Hart compared the auto industry unfavorably to the aviation industry, where companies share safety information instead of using it for competitive advantage.

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