Safety in a World of Driverless Cars
February 15, 2018
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced last month that a new set of guidelines for autonomous vehicles will be released this summer to spur innovation and promote safety. Vehicles with different levels of autonomy, including totally driverless cars, are already on the road in some cities. But there are various schools of thought on how safe self-driving cars should be before they're fully brought to market.
In this Call with the Experts, Senior Information Scientist Nidhi Kalra discusses a new RAND study that shows putting driverless cars on the road before they're nearly perfect could save lives, and also describes new approaches for safety standards. Media relations director Jeffrey Hiday moderates the call.
RAND researchers Nidhi Kalra and David G. Groves developed a model to compare 500 different scenarios of autonomous vehicle introduction, adoption, and improvement. The research shows that putting autonomous vehicles on the road sooner, allowing them to improve quicker, could save hundreds of thousands of lives over time.
Autonomous vehicles should only have to be moderately better than human drivers before being widely used in the United States. This approach could save thousands of lives annually even before the technology is perfected.
Autonomous vehicles could greatly reduce the risk of crashes. But the safety benefits are not yet proven and may not be known until AVs are widespread. What kind of regulatory approach could help balance innovation, risk, and uncertainty?