It's been clear for years that the gas tax has been losing its ability to pay for America's existing roads and bridges, let alone improvements and new construction. A vehicle miles traveled fee could provide a potential option for a 21st-century transportation funding system.
An operational design domain (ODD) is a description of the conditions in which an autonomous vehicle is designed to operate safely. No nationwide ODD policy exists, but because ODD is partly about the characteristics of a specific location, state and local policies could be useful.
While autonomous weapons systems are still in their early development stages, it is worth the time of policymakers to carefully consider whether their putative operational advantages are worth the potential risks of instability and escalation they may raise.
Researchers at RAND have been working on the technology behind driverless vehicles for over 50 years. From 1968 to the present, studies have involved remote-controlled drones, military land vehicles, autonomous submarines, and the safety and liability issues of self-driving cars.
Cars are becoming “fast, heavy artificial intelligences on wheels,” a RAND report cautions, and that means they're becoming vulnerable. Potentially billions of dollars ride on the question of who has the legal responsibility to keep hackers from grabbing the wheel or cutting the brakes.
Imagine a scene from the near-future: You get dropped off downtown by a driverless car. You slam the door and head into your office or appointment. But then where does the autonomous vehicle go? It's a question that cities would be wise to consider now. Self-driving cars may be on the roads within the next decade or two.
Tens of thousands of people die on American roads every year. Bringing that number down to zero by 2050 is possible. We would have to change how we think about road safety, stop accepting car crashes as accidents, and make smart investments in technology.
More large U.S. cities are seeing their outer reaches turn into transit deserts, where demand for transportation vastly exceeds supply. Connecting public transit systems with automated vehicles, whether in ride-sharing or shuttle services, could be a solution.
Safety and cybersecurity are generally pursued by separate teams within autonomous vehicle companies. A joint approach to standards could optimize safety and cybersecurity and reduce overall risks to autonomous vehicle operation.