Monday, February 28, 2022

Law Commission report on Automated Vehicles

Comprehensive effort by Law Commissions (England, Wales, Scotland) on Automated Vehicle regulations. A lot of work, and some valuable insights.

Web site with all documents:

Summary of findings:

Full report:

Excerpt from the summary:

"Key recommendations

Throughout this project, we have strived to keep safety at the forefront of our proposals, while also retaining the flexibility required to accommodate future development.

Our recommendations cover initial approval and authorisation of self-driving vehicles, ongoing monitoring of their performance while they are on the road, misleading marketing, and both criminal and civil liability. They include:

    • Writing the test for self-driving into law, with a bright line distinguishing it from driver support features, a transparent process for setting a safety standard, and new offences to prevent misleading marketing.
    • A two-stage approval and authorisation process building on current international and domestic technical vehicle approval schemes and adding a new second stage to authorise vehicles for use as self-driving on GB roads.
    • A new in-use safety assurance scheme to provide regulatory oversight of automated vehicles throughout their lifetimes to ensure they continue to be safe and comply with road rules.
    • New legal roles for users, manufacturers and service operators, with removal of criminal responsibility for the person in the passenger seat.
    • Holding manufacturers and service operators criminally responsible for misrepresentation or non-disclosure of safety-relevant information."

Thursday, February 10, 2022

AV Regulation Bill Hearings: case study materials for regulations, democracy and how the sausage gets made

Kansas has been holding hearings about setting Autonomous Vehicle regulations. The situation provides an interesting, publicly accessible view into what's happening across the US. It also provides an exercise in transparency compared to the process used at about the same time in Pennsylvania.

Hand writing the word Regulations

A simplified summary of the Kansas situation:

  • Walmart is using its lobbying weight to expand its "middle mile" automated delivery trials from Arkansas to also include Kansas. The bill is being considered at their request. But they confess the technology is beyond them.
  • Gatik is the Walmart partner doing the heavy lifting here. They tell a plausible story about care and diligence, phased incremental approach, etc., although without mentioning conformance to industry standards. However, regardless of the story they tell, the bill would permit other companies to also operate in the state, so what is in the bill matters beyond Gatik's statements.
  • The proposed bill is short (2 pages) and is aimed at narrow permission to do things that look like depot-to-store un-crewed logistics runs on Kansas public roads.
  • The bill omits a number of important things pointed out by various parties, so the question is how short can it be while still hitting the important points. It's clear it will be revised with various parties hammering out a revision, and we'll hear more about it later. But for now, the discussion itself is illuminating.
The testimony covers a lot of ground in terms of real issues that need to be resolved. It's worth listening to all three sessions to get a feel for what people care about.  

Kansas AV regulation case study materials:

  • The bill itself:
  • Written testimony link
  • First day testimony (proponents -- 51 minutes):
    • 00:50: Briefing on bill
    • 03:35: Walmart
    • 14:50: Gatik government relations presentation
    • 24:20: Gatik technical presentation
    • 38:20: Q&A
    • Note: video corruption at approximately 48:30-49:10 is in original stream
  • Second day testimony (neutral/opponents -- 50 minutes):
    (Times are from start of hearing. Add 1 minute for YouTube stream time)
    • 00:20: Briefing on bill
    • 01:45: Kansas DOT
    • 08:40: Kansas Police organizations
    • 19:50: Teamsters/organized labor
    • 26:35: League of Kansas Municipalities
    • 30:05: Ford Motor Company
    • 33:35: Michael DeKort 
    • 40:55: Alliance for Automotive Innovation
    • 47:15: General Q&A
  • Third day testimony (opponents -- 32 minutes):
    (Times are from start of hearing. Add 3 minutes for YouTube stream time)
    • 00:40: Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association
    • 07:10: AUVSI
    • 10:30: Technet
    • 12:45: Trial Lawyers / American Association of Justice
    • 17:40: Trial Lawyers/ Hutton & Hutton  (voice only in original stream)
    • 24:40: Carnegie Mellon University
    • 30:15: General Q&A
  • A new bill was introduced in March 2022: SB 546
  • Kansas house hearing on SB 546, March 29, 2022
    • Be sure to listen to the exchange at about 2:02:00 about whether time pressure should be a reason to move the bill forward still in need of work.
  • Finally a Kansas bill was signed by the governor: KS SB 313
Suggested activities for educators regarding SB 379:
  • Warm up by reading a news article on the bill, such as:
  • All students should watch the proponent first day testimony and read the bill.
  • Assign each student to watch one speaker for the second/third day videos and summarize the position of that person in two to five points.
    • Re-enact the hearing with each student just giving the three points to boil it down to essentials.
    • Who was the speaker advocating for (general public, special interest group, government function, etc.)?
    • What do you think that person's testimony contributed to the conversation about the bill within the committee that was different than other speakers?
    • Did you find that person credible and effective at advocating for their position? Why?
  • Assign five groups within the class, and assign each group one of the five regulatory topic areas listed in this blog post.
    • Each group comments on strengths and weaknesses of the bill according to the five topic areas.
    • Which of the elements within the assigned group of regulatory issues is addressed by the Walmart/Gatik testimony?
    • Pick just one weakness of the bill in your group's assigned area and propose a sentence to add to the bill to fix that one point.
  • Discussion:
    1. Do you think the bill's scope is just right, too narrow, too broad, or should not be passed at all?
    2. Do you think Gatik's deployment will be acceptably safe? Why?
    3. Do you think deploying this technology on Kansas roads provides a reasonable tradeoff between economic benefit and jobs to the region vs. risk to other road users and potential issues?
    4. How strong a regulatory role should Kansas DOT be given?
    5. If you could only change one thing about the bill, what would you change?
    6. Look for your speaker/topic in the follow-up bill SB 546. Did your speaker's position on your topic change? Why do you think that happened?
Pennsylvania AV regulation case study materials:
Other bills from the 2021-2022 legislative season:
Background materials:
Updates added ad hoc: incomplete and not in the time capsule

Download time capsule for off-line educational use:

  • My Kansas testimony is at the very end of the last day of the first set of senate hearings. It needs to be clearly stated that my testimony is in the specific context of this bill and the situation on the ground there. If it were a broader situation I'd have a lot more to say per the five topic list link.
  • You will notice some people, especially in earlier hearings, wearing masks due to the Covid19 pandemic. (This is obvious at the time I create this page, but in a few years it might not be as obvious what is going on with this.)

Updated 12 June 2022, Philip Koopman, Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, February 4, 2022

Tesla Rolling Stops -- 10 reasons this is a Big Deal

The Tesla rolling stop discussion continues, with thoughtful people sometimes not sure which way to go on this. Here is a breakdown of the issues...

This is a big deal and should be treated as such:

  1. It's illegal. Ignoring the law until you get caught is untrustworthy behavior (in this case apparently part of a pattern). Tesla could have and should have worked this out with NHTSA in advance. Then lobbied for regulatory change if needed.
  2. Any rule-bending behavior needs to adjust to local conditions and context to be safe-ish, which wasn't done here. Local customs are relevant. Not doing it in school zones, near playgrounds. Etc.
  3. These vehicles are not yet competent drivers. They regularly try to hit vehicles and other things they detect (show as detected on screen -- see YouTube). Any statement that they will proceed only when conditions are clear ignores this severe issue that they clearly are not competent judges of when intersections are clear. (Safety driver being responsible from stopping running over a pedestrian is a ridiculous argument to build in dangerous behavior, but I know it will be made.)
  4. Even if you think rolling stops are fine (I disagree), the full stop is still necessary -- for the safety driver to have time to assess safety before going.
  5. Top end of 5.6 mph is jogging speed -- more like a yield sign -- it's not a 0.5 mph crawl. If the vehicle needs to creep out into the intersection for sight lines the procedure I remember from my driver training is very clear: first stop completely, then creep as necessary.
  6. They are removing agency from the human driver in deciding when to break the law. People selecting a "rolling stop" mode had no idea what they were really signing up for (true behaviors were only disclosed in recall)-- but were going to bear the full burden of any liability for hitting a bicyclist or child at an intersection. That is really wrong. Deciding to break the law on behalf of a driver in an opaque way without involving driver approval every time it is done is inherently a problem.
  7. Arguing you'll be safer because you don't make bad human driver choices and then emulating human drivers who bend rules is not a particularly convincing approach to building trust.
  8. This differs in kind from crossing a centerline to go around a disabled vehicle. Shaving a few seconds off a trip does not justify breaking traffic laws. There is no pressing no overriding utility of mission completion requirement to break that rule.
  9. Saying "people can break the law" is whataboutism. Huge difference between setting a law-breaking policy that sticks basically forever unless changed vs. instance-by-instance human choices to direct a machine to violate speed limit (or whatever) with that human driver being connected to the context the decision is being made in--and consequences. If they wanted to have the ability to do rolling stops they could have just had the driver tap the accelerator as the car slows down and used that as a basis for training for when regulations were relaxed to account for this behavior. (Not condoning breaking traffic laws -- but pointing out that there is an obvious alternative that engaged the safety driver in the process that was not used.)
  10. NHTSA has better things to do with its limited resources than play Whac-a-mole with Tesla. Tesla can flout rules faster than NHTSA has resources to enforce them. This appears to be just one incident in a larger campaign of that sort.

Sure, revisiting regulations to codify "do something reasonable" makes sense. I've been pointing this out as a challenge for years. But move fast and break things while unilaterally deciding what you can get away with is not the right approach to safety.

Reference AP article here:

NHTSA Part 573 Safety Recall Report:

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Five Principles for Regulation of Highly Automated Vehicles

February 1, 2022


Philip Koopman∗ & William H. Widen**

Providing economic opportunities and jobs is important, but these benefits alone are not an equitable and fair exchange for the use of public highways as a testing ground, and the exposure of the public to an increased risk of harm from highly automated vehicle (HAV) accidents during development. The principles below summarize concrete actions that HAV legislation should include to provide an appropriate balance.

Typeset Acrobat version here:

1. Safety

Operational Safety: commit to a testing and deployment standard for automated driving system (ADS) performance of “substantially better than the average unimpaired human driver (AUHD) rather than the vague “sufficiently safe” criteria currently in use by HAV companies.

Metrics: state the metric(s) used to make the performance comparison between an ADS and the AUHD.

Industry Standards: commitment to follow published professional industry standards appropriate for the type of HAV operation (i.e., testing, trials or deployment) including: SAE J3018, UL 4600, ISO 21448 and ISO 26262, as informed by AVSC00001201911 AVSC Best Practice for safety operator selection, training, and oversight procedures for automated vehicles under test and AVSC0007202107 AVSC Information Report for Adapting a Safety Management System (SMS) for Automated Driving System (ADS) SAE Level 4 and 5 Testing and Evaluation.

Regulatory time-out: allow all regulators (federal, state, and local) to temporarily enjoin HAV operations (including testing) as a response to discrete events which raise safety concerns and to revoke testing permits for significant adverse events as well as for patterns of unsafe HAV operations or operations that violate law.

2. Responsibility for Loss (Compensation)

Duty of Care: Any company or person operating an AV should, by statue, owe the public a non-delegable duty of care for safe operation.

Insurance Levels: Use a required insurance amount not less than the US DOT’s statistical value of a human life ($11.6 million per person in 2020, adjusted annually). Do not allow self-insurance by HAV companies which are not cash flow positive. Establish clear single-risk limits and treatment of multiple injuries/fatalities in a single event, with separate treatment for special cases, such as truck platooning which might be expected to cause greater harm on a per incident basis.

Owner/Occupant Liability: Clarify the liability of an owner/occupant of an HAV for loss caused when an ADS is properly engaged. May an injured party sue the owner/occupant in the absence of negligence and collect against the owner’s insurance policy or are claims limited to ADS designers, manufacturers and upfitters for defects? Explain interaction with negligence claims for maintenance, upgrades, and installation failures.

Single Collection Point for Plaintiffs: Allow a plaintiff to collect from a single responsible defendant in full, with joint and several liability and a right of contribution from other responsible parties (regardless of whether the liability is based in negligence or product defect).

Insurance Policy with Plaintiffs in Position of a Named Insured: Allow plaintiffs to make a claim against HAV company insurance policies as if they were a named insured to facilitate prompt payment of medical bills and other amounts so plaintiffs do not face financial pressure to settle for less than full compensation.

Eliminate Barriers to Collection for Full Damages: As applicable, lift caps on damage collection by potential plaintiffs with lower cost insurance policies, such as limited tort option policies in Pennsylvania.

3. Transparency

Periodic reporting: require timely publication of HAV safety performance, including how actual performance of an HAV compares with promised performance relative to the AUHD.

Crash Data: require timely publication of all crash data and police reports for any incident involving a HAV.

Publicize testing, trials, and deployment plans: a requirement to issue publicly a testing plan prior to commencement of testing, trials or deployment which explain how the HAV company addresses safety, responsibility for loss, transparency, inclusion, and non-discrimination. Allow local regulators to review, comment upon, and approve the testing plan.

Identification of times, manner and locations for testing and trials: requirement to post information about the times and locations for testing and trials so the public understands areas of increased risk.

Don’t Promulgate Myths: advocates for an HAV law, rule or regulation, should not use marketing and outreach materials containing untruthful or misleading statements or material omissions, such as the myth that 94% of serious crashes are caused by human error.

Disclose a Harm Now, Benefits Later Justification for Deployment: If an HAV company plans to deploy HAVs at scale when the technology does not perform substantially better than an AUHD, or its level of performance cannot be determined with reasonable certainty, disclose this fact in the testing plan so the public can evaluate a policy which exposes the public to harms on the promise of future improvements to HAV technology.

4. Inclusion

IEEE 7000: require HAV companies to follow the IEEE 7000 Standard Model Process for Addressing Ethical Concerns procedures to identify all interested parties affected by the testing, trials, and deployment of HAV technology (including emergency service responders, hazardous material transporters, and those in a work zone). Address the concerns of all stakeholders in public plans and with respect to testing, trials, and deployments.

Adaptation to Local Conditions: give municipalities the power to limit HAV operations based on time, manner, and location to account for local conditions (such as preventing truck platooning in certain neighborhoods or driverless trials in school zones; account for local special events; account for recent incidents which present safety concerns); remove blanket pre-emption by state law to allow municipalities to exercise this power.

Review Global Approaches to HAV Regulation: as part of approving any bill, review the recommended approaches to HAV regulation taken in other jurisdictions, such as the joint report of the UK law commissions on automated vehicles, and the EU’s ethics guidelines for the development of trustworthy artificial intelligence.

5. Non-Discrimination:

No Concentrated Operations in Areas of Concern: Municipal review of both public testing and trial plans and the time, manner and locations for testing and trials to ensure that at-risk communities, such as low-income neighborhoods, do not experience a disproportionate increased risk of loss from HAV operations (without mitigating the identified risk) as opposed to other communities not deemed to be at special risk.

Mitigation Strategies: If a need arises to concentrate certain types of testing and trials in an at-risk community, use other means to mitigate the adverse impact of the concentration—such as conducting testing only with an on-board safety driver, use of two safety drivers; or elimination of uncrewed trials.

Special Review of Related Laws: review applicable existing state and local laws to identify situations in which HAV operations (including crashes) might adversely impact low-income and other at-risk persons, such as limited damage collection for low-cost policies, and the difficulty and expense of pursuing a product defect claim given legal complexity and number of possible defendants.

Justice40: situate and harmonize non-discrimination efforts within the broader framework of social justice and equity values, including those contained in the Federal Government’s Justice40 initiative.