Standards panel spotlights levels of autonomy, need to share info

Standards panel spotlights levels of autonomy, need to share info

The panel on standards cooperation at MobilityTalks on Jan. 24 zeroed in on the different levels of autonomy in cars and on the need for companies to share information on standards and safety technology.

SAE International has established five levels of autonomy in cars, with 5 being completely autonomous a car that does not require a human driver. –Engineers, lawyers and the insurance industry are thinking weêre going straight to Level 5,” said William Gouse of SAE. –Thatês a very big leap.”

Harmonized standards for autonomy are important, Gouse said. –A single set of standards can save a big administrative burden. In the next 18 months weêll probably see standards for Level 1 autonomous vehicles.”

The lack of a clear definition of autonomous vehicles and the lack of standards are a problem. In California, a 2012 law requires the DMV to write standards for autonomous vehicles and to assure the safety of autonomous vehicles, both for manufacturer testing and public use. The problem, said Dr. Bernard Soriano of the California DMV, is that there are no safety standards for autonomous vehicles.

A more general problem is that the public has –inflated expectations” for autonomous cars that can only lead to disappointment, said Andrew Smart, chief technology officer of the American Center for Mobility. People think we will have Level 5 cars in MY 2017, when itês more likely to be 2020, and the cars may not be Level 5 even then.

A big problem for the safety aspect is that companies are not sharing safety technology because itês a competitive advantage, said Smart. But –the more we can share the better. There are great levels of secrecy around testing.”

Panel members on the standards topic questioned whether secrecy is appropriate for safety. –The aviation industry does not compete on safety,” said Soriano. –One wonders whether safety should be a cooperative program.”

The bottom line on standards, said Soriano: Automakers are trying to develop new products in a highly regulated industry. Other companies, like Google, are also developing new products in an industry that hasnêt been very regulated. –Itês a race,” he said. –And regulations take a long time.”

Adding to the complication are questions about infrastructure, road surface, lighting and other issues around autonomous cars. With so many questions, collaboration and cooperation are required, panelists concluded.

The first day of MobilityTalks on Jan. 24 at the W.E. Washington Convention Center consisted of ten panels and breakout segments, a number of which are reported above. For the full listing of panels, breakouts and distinguished speakers, click here.

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