Three rival automakers and the car industry's international standards-setting organization joined together to create a new group that aims to create a set of rules to govern development and implementation of self-driving cars.
The Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium is tasked with setting best practices for self-driving cars and it counts among its founding members Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and the Society of Automotive Engineers.
The self-driving car industry is light on government regulation as automakers push toward Level 4 and 5 self-driving cars that may not have any form of human controls. In the U.S., there's no national safety standard set by the NHTSA for advanced self-driving cars that lack a steering wheel. For now, all test vehicles must conform to the same safety and interface guidelines as conventional cars—namely, they must have steering wheels and pedals.
GM in particular has petitioned the NHTSA to allow it to test a car without a steering wheel, but the government agency has yet to respond to its request.
The automakers and SAE also realize the group can go a long way to help the public better understand self-driving cars and the technology that surrounds them. A recent survey found two-thirds of Americans have no desire to own a self-driving car, and many still don't trust them. With a set of safety guidelines, the AVSC hopes to calm a nervous public as the technology continues to develop.
The first piece of work from the AVSC is a roadmap, which the group laid out as its near-term focus. To start, it wants any manufacturer, developer, or integrator of self-driving technology to focus on data sharing, safe autonomous vehicle interaction with humans on the road, and safe testing guidelines. The group will share more of its proposals throughout the year, but also speak at the SAE World Congress Experience, which opens on April 9 in Detroit.