Three major carmakers join forces to tackle safety standards with self-driving cars

Three major carmakers are forming a consortium to help draw up safety standards for self-driving cars that could eventually help create regulations in the US.

General Motors, Ford, and Toyota said they are joining forces with automotive engineering group SAE International to establish autonomous vehicle “safety guiding principles to help inform standards development”.

The group will also “work to safely advance testing, pre-competitive development and deployment”, they said.

Regulators in the US have been grappling with how to regulate self-driving cars, with other countries watching closely to see how implementation of the emerging technology pans out.

Last year, US politicians, unable to agree on a way forward, abandoned a bid to pass sweeping legislation to speed the introduction of vehicles without steering wheels and human controls onto roads, but may resurrect the effort later this year.

The new group, dubbed the Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium, will begin by deciding priorities, with a focus on data sharing, vehicle interaction with other road users, and safe testing guidelines.

Randy Visintainer, chief technology officer at Ford’s autonomous vehicles unit, said the goal is to work with companies and government “to expedite development of standards that can lead to rule making”.

A fatal 2018 accident involving a self-driving vehicle operated by Uber and two deadly plane crashes involving highly automated Boeing 737-Max airliners have put a spotlight on the ability of regulators to assess the safety of advanced systems that substitute machine intelligence for human judgment.

The new consortium cited as a successful model a standards group that helped create a collection of some 4,500 aerospace standards covering airframe, engine, and other aircraft parts.


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