AgeLab Research Scientist Bryan Reimer participated in a panel discussion at SXSW in Austin, Texas, titled "Who Takes the Wheel on Self-Driving Car Safety?"
Dr. Reimer shared the stage with Catherine Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; David Friedman, former Deputy and Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); and David Stricklan, former Administrator of NHTSA.
Three key themes around autonomous vehicles that Dr. Reimer discussed were:
- Vehicle automation and our move towards self-driving cars is an evolution, not a revolution. Changes will be gradual and take time to influence how we live and move.
- Humans are a key component in highly automated systems. Human expertise is critical when automation reaches its design boundaries. In the context of self-driving vehicles, this is likely to involve very complex teleoperation backbones that coceptually mirror aspects of air traffic control.
- A pathway to safety needs to be engineered. While automated vehicle technologies that improve safety beyond that of human drivers may be a reasonable starting point today, such a threshold is not good enough for tomorrow. Year-over-year reductions in fatalities and personal injuries is critical. Stakeholder alignment of the costs of change (e.g. robots that will harm humans) is a necessity to ease consumer, policy and advocacy pushback.
More information about the panel and full audio of the proceedings can be found here.