The Associated Press recently reported on a meeting hosted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) regarding self driving cars. Experts, including multiple engineers, spoke at the meeting and warned officials that self-driving vehicles still pose safety risks. The experts urged the NHTSA to issue regulations on self-driving vehicles as soon as possible as the technology is already been put out on the road unregulated.
James Niles, president of Orbit City Lab, a New York think tank, told the meeting that there is a complete absence of federal regulations and standards to prevent self-driving cars from being turned into weapons by “bad actors.”
“The concern that an autonomous vehicle could be used as a weapon has gone unnoticed by the general public and probably by the majority of government officials,” he said.
Some of the safety issues the experts believe self-driving vehicles cannot handle include:
—Poorly marked pavement, including parking lots and driveways, could foil the technology, which relies on clear lane markings.
—Bad weather can interfere with vehicle sensors.
—Self-driving cars can’t take directions from a policeman.
—Inconsistent traffic-control devices — horizontal versus lateral traffic lights, for example.
“It is dangerous, impractical and a major threat to the public health, safety and welfare to deploy them (self-driving vehicles),” said Mark Golden, executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers.
It will be interesting to see if and when the NHTSA will react to these concerns and issue regulations. It is clear self-driving cars are not safe to put on the road and they should be restricted until the proper software has been developed along with the much needed regulations.