Posts

Automated Vehicle Regulatory Launch Page

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 I've worked on a number of pieces that are relevant to automated/autonomous vehicle (AV) regulations lately. Here is a resource page to organize the material all in one place. Round table discussion on AV ethics, safety, and trust  (good starting point for orientation to issues; should be no paywall despite being IEEE) Smerconish general audience piece on issues with AV industry public road testing  (both Tesla and rest of industry) AV industry and trust SSRN Autonomous Vehicle Regulation and Trust  (detailed scholarly publication preprint for legal journal).  Several topics in this paper appear in shorter versions elsewhere on this list Autonomous Vehicle Myths: The Dirty Dozen  {AV policy myths, disinformation campaign} EE Times short version   Longer, more detailed version   Letter sent to Washington State rebutting the type of disinformation that is being circulated by AV industry groups  in this case about the UL 4600 standard General regulatory playbook for state & munic

Regulating Automated Vehicles with Human Drivers

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Summary  Regulatory oversight of automated vehicle operation on public roads is being gamed by the vehicle automation industry via two approaches: (1) promoting SAE J3016, which is explicitly not a safety standard, as the basis for safety regulation, and (2) using the "Level 2 loophole" to deploy autonomous test platforms while evading regulatory oversight. Regulators are coming to understand they need to do something to reign in the reckless driving and other safety issues that are putting their constituents at risk. We propose a regulatory approach to deal with this situation that involves a clear distinction between production "cruise control" style automation that can be subject to conventional regulatory oversight vs. test platforms that should be regulated via SAE J3018 use for testing operational safety. Video showing Tesla FSD beta tester unsafely turning into oncoming traffic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fmj5MkyUD08&t=405s Do not use SAE J3016 in re

(Obsolete article) Automation Levels for Vehicle Testing

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(This article is for archival purposes only. A newer take on this topic is here:   https://safeautonomy.blogspot.com/2021/11/regulating-AVs-with-human-drivers.html )

Debunking AV Industry Positions on Standards and Regulations

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(This is the expanded version of: Philip Koopman, " Autonomous Vehicle Myths: The Dirty Dozen ," EE Times, Oct. 22, 2021.) Too often, I’ve read documents or listened to panel sessions that rehash misleading or just plain incorrect industry talking points regarding autonomous vehicle standards and regulations. The current industry strategy seems to boil down to “Trust us, we know what’s best,” “Don’t stifle innovation,” and “Humans are bad drivers, so computers will be better.” As far as I can tell, what’s really going on is that automated-vehicle companies are saying what they say both to avoid being regulated and to avoid having to follow their own industry safety standards. That strategy has not yielded long-term safety in other industries that have tried it, however, and I predict that in the long term it will not serve the automotive industry well either. It certainly does not encourage trust.  In this essay, I address the usual industry talking points and provide summary

Autonomous Vehicle Testing Guidance for State & City DOTs

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Once in a while I'm contacted by a city or state Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide advice on safety for "self-driving" car testing. (Generally that means public road testing of SAE Level 3-5 vehicles that are intended for eventual deployment as automated or autonomous capable vehicles,) The good news is that industry standards are maturing. Rather than having to create their own guidelines and requirements as they have in the past, DOTs now have the option of primarily relying upon having AV testers conform to industry-created guidelines and consensus standards. And ... in September 2021 NYC DOT blazed a trail by requiring the self-driving car industry to conform to their own industry consensus testing safety standard (J3018). Kudos to NYC DOT!  (check it out here ( link ); more on that in the details below. The #1 important thing to keep in mind is that testing safety is not about the automation technology -- it is about the ability of the human safety driver

Is Tesla Full Self Driving Level 2, or Level 4?

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Since this blog was written, I teamed up with William Widen and did an deeper analysis of what Tesla told CA DMV and the relevant CA regulations. Conclusion: Our analysis indicates that Tesla FSD beta is SAE Level 4.  This builds upon the previous blog post below, but the article in the JURIST and associated SSRN article supersede the below, which is preserved only for historical context. https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2021/09/william-widen-philip-koopman-autonomous-vehicles/ (update: Oct 1, 2021) Original article is below. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- The technical crux of the Tesla "Full Self Driving" naming and marketing dilemma is SAE J3016 Section 8.2  (J3016 is the standard that defines the Levels.) If the design intent for the Tesla FSD feature is to eventually operate without a human driver being required for safety, per SAE J3016 that makes it SAE Level 4 ("L4") -- even if today a human driver is required t

Defining Safe Level 2 & Level 3 Vehicles

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SAE J3016 defines vehicle automation levels, but is not a safety standard (nor does it claim to be). Levels 2 & 3 are especially problematic from a safety point of view. What they define if the standard is followed -- and no more -- is unlikely to provide acceptable safety in practice. To be clear: a vehicle said to be SAE Level 2 or SAE Level 3 might be safe. But if it only does the bare minimum required for J3016 conformance, it is unlikely to be safe. More is needed. (For more on the specifics of SAE J3016 Levels see this user guide (link)  including a detailed discussion of what is and is not required by the SAE Levels.) SAE Level 2 safety SAE Level 2 requires that the driver be responsible for the Object and Event Detection and Response (OEDR). The driving automation might or might not see some objects, and might or might not respond properly, thus requiring continuous driver vigilance. However, it is well known that human drivers do poorly at supervising automation. Paradoxi