Posted on September 26, 2016 in Transportation
Autonomous vehicles have the potential to change all aspects of mobility – from driver safety and insurance liability to car ownership and how Americans commute – and could disrupt both public and private transportation as we know it. As Google, Uber, Tesla, the automobile industry and other organizations continue to make rapid technological advances in driverless cars, it is vital that federal, state and local governments establish policies, laws and regulations that account for this disruptive technology. Of utmost importance is finding a balance between guarding public safety while regulating insurance/liability and simultaneously encouraging investment in research and development of driverless vehicles and their implementation and integration into our transportation system.
Fully automated vehicles (AVs), also referred to as driverless cars or self-driving cars, are capable of sensing their environment and navigating roads without human input. They rely on technologies like GPS, Lidar and radar to read their surroundings and make intelligent decisions about the vehicle’s direction and speed and interaction with other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians. 1
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has devised a classification system for autonomous vehicles. The details on this system are:
Potential positive impacts include:
Potential negative impacts include:
How Other Industries will be Impacted by Autonomous Cars
Industry experts and stakeholders have widely varying opinions on when driverless vehicles will be available. Automakers and technology developers estimate that driverless vehicle technology will be publicly available in 2018-2020; however, there are other factors that will influence the driverless vehicle time line, including consumer acceptance and adoption, government regulation, privacy and security regulations and insurance industry adjustments.
Traditional automakers like Mercedes and Toyota already make vehicles equipped with systems that keep cars within their lanes, apply brakes when necessary or park themselves. Automakers plan to gradually automate more functions of driving until, perhaps by 2025, some cars will be fully capable of driving themselves.
On the other hand, Google, Alibaba, Baidu and other technology companies are aggressively working on their own driverless vehicles, and could leapfrog the car industry in bringing them to market. Generally, however, researchers believe that driverless vehicles will not be ubiquitous on roadways until 2025 - 2040 (and some believe even later). 5
Currently, the government’s role in the burgeoning driverless vehicle industry is limited. This section describes the government’s role as of January 2016 at the federal, state and local levels in the United States.
At the federal level, NHTSA is supporting some initial research in automated vehicles, human interactions with automated vehicles, and performance and safety requirements. The organization also has established a classification system for various levels of vehicle automation. NHTSA issued policy guidance with recommendations (not requirements) for states that have authorized the operation of self-driving vehicles, including how to ensure safe operation of the cars throughout the testing phase. Many of the federal government’s efforts have been focused on funding research and policy development on connected vehicles, including getting pilot programs off the ground.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued long-awaited guidance delineating responsibilities of the federal and state governments for self-driving cars. While strong safety oversight will be a hallmark of policies governing testing and deployment, the federal government recognizes the potential of these vehicles for saving time, money and lives. Response to the guidance largely has been positive and a number of states appear poised to move quickly on new autonomous vehicle legislation in the days and months ahead. 6
At the state level, a wide variety of laws and regulations have been enacted or implemented. As of January 2016, California, Michigan, Florida, Nevada, Tennessee and Washington D.C. have enacted legislation allowing limited driverless vehicle testing on public roadways. Related legislation is pending in many other states. The statutory language varies among the states and the focus of legislation varies among these topics:
Currently, there is little consistency or precedent on a safety and licensing framework among the existing and emerging legislation. Some states have opted against the creation of new regulations for driverless vehicle testing or operation because of concern that previous laws have stunted research in those states that passed testing regulations.
|Alabama||AL S 178 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|California||CA SB 1298 (2012)||Enacted|
|California||CA AB 1592 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|California||CA AB 2682 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|California||CA AB 2866 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|California||CA SB 431 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Connecticut||CT HB 6344 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Florida||FL HB 1207 (2012)||Enacted|
|Florida||FL HB 599 (2012)||Enacted|
|Florida||FL HB 7027 (2016)||Enacted|
|Florida||FL HB 7061 (2016)||Enacted|
|Georgia||GA SB 113 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Georgia||GA SB 113 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Hawaii||HI HB 632 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Hawaii||HI HB 1458 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Hawaii||HI HB 2687 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Hawaii||HI SB 630 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Idaho||ID SB 1108 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Illinois||IL HB 3136 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Louisiana||LA HB 1143 (2016)||Enacted|
|Maryland||MD HB 172 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Maryland||MD SB 778 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Maryland||MD HB 8 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Maryland||MD SB 126 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Massachusetts||MA HB 2977 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Massachusetts||MA HB 4321 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Massachusetts||MA SB 1841 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Michigan||MI SB 169 (2013)||Enacted|
|Michigan||MI SB 663 (2013)||Enacted|
|Michigan||MI SB 927 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Michigan||MI SB 928 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Michigan||MI SB 995 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Michigan||MI SB 996 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Michigan||MI SB 997 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Michigan||MI SB 998 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Minnesota||MN HB 3325 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Minnesota||MN SB 2659 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Mississippi||MS SB 2672 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Missouri||MO HB 924 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Nevada||NV AB 511 (2011)||Enacted|
|Nevada||NV SB 140 (2011)||Enacted|
|Nevada||NV SB 313 (2013)||Enacted|
|New Jersey||NJ AB 554 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|New Jersey||NJ AB 851 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|New Jersey||NJ AB 3745 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|New Jersey||NJ SB 343 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|New York||NY AB 10586 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|New York||NY SB 7879 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|North Carolina||NC HB 782 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|North Dakota||ND HB 1065 (2015)||Enacted|
|Oregon||OR SB 620 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Pennsylvania||PA HB 2203 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Pennsylvania||PA SB 1268 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Rhode Island||RI SB 2514 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Tennessee||TN SB 598 (2015)||Enacted|
|Tennessee||TN SB 2333 (2016)||Enacted|
|Tennessee||TN SB 1561 (2016)||Enacted|
|Tennessee||TN HB 616 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Tennessee||TN HB 1564 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Tennessee||TN HB 2173 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Texas||TX HB 933 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Texas||TX SB 1167 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Texas||TX HB 3690 (2015)||Proposed in 2015|
|Utah||UT HB 280 (2016)||Enacted|
|Virginia||VA HB 1372 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Washington||WA HB 2106 (2016)||Proposed in 2016|
|Washington, D.C.||2012 DC B 19-0931||Enacted|
Local government involvement in the advancement of driverless vehicles is minimal. A few cities are making the news as driverless vehicles are being tested on their streets (notably Mountain View, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania); however, the cities are not necessarily investing in the technology or actively forming partnerships with the technology developers. 7
For additional information, the following excerpted news articles provide further resources:
“As of August 2016, seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted autonomous vehicle legislation. Another state has an executive order on the books.”
“Even as federal safety officials step up their investigation of the fatal crash of a driver operating a Tesla car with its Autopilot system engaged, the company continues to defend the self-driving technology as safe when properly used.” The New York Times. 8
“All the hardware exists to build fully autonomous vehicles, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday, but developers need more precise maps and the artificial intelligence to process them in a computer small enough to fit in a car.” Forbes. 9
“Even before Tesla revealed that a fatal accident had occurred while one of its cars was in semiautonomous driving mode, a debate was well underway between researchers and engineers: Is it possible to get a driver to safely take back control of a car once the vehicle has started driving itself?” The New York Times. 10
“The director of policy for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said a new task force organized to hash out regulatory standards for the autonomous vehicle industry expects to complete its findings by the end of the year.” Pittsburgh Business Times. 11
“If you’re thinking about autonomous or self-driving cars these days, you’re probably thinking about safety. Recent events have raised serious doubts over whether self-driving cars are really ready for widespread public use. But that’s not what this story is about. This story is about the social and economic consequences of the coming wave of semi-autonomous and completely self-driving vehicles.” Digital Trends. 12
“Many automotive and technology experts, however, expect that fully developing the technology and perfecting regulations for two-ton vehicles tooling around our roads without a human at the controls will take a decade or two. And determining to a statistical certainty whether autonomous vehicles are safer will take even longer.” Los Angeles Times. 13
“Uber has fundamentally changed the taxi industry. But its biggest disruption may be yet to come. The ride-hailing company has invested in autonomous-vehicle research, and its CEO Travis Kalanick (pictured above) has indicated that consumers can expect a driverless Uber fleet by 2030. Uber expects its service to be so inexpensive and ubiquitous as to make car ownership obsolete. Such ambitious plans could make its disruption of the taxi industry look quaint in comparison.” Mobility Lab. 14
Two presentations recently given at the CSG/EAST annual meeting in Quebec serve as additional resources:
1 Isaac, Lauren. “Driving Towards Driverless: A Guide for Government Agencies.” WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff. http://www.wsp-pb.com/Globaln/USA/Transportation%20and%20Infrastructure/ driving-towards-driverless-WBP-Fellow-monograph-lauren-isaac-feb-24-2016.pdf (accessed August 4, 2016).
2 U.S. Department of Transportation Releases Policy on Automated Vehicle Development.” U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/ U.S.+Department+of+Transportation+Releases+Policy+on+Automated+Vehicle+Development (accessed August 5, 2016).
3 Isaac, Lauren. “Driving Towards Driverless.”
4 Isaac, Lauren. “How Other Industries will be Impacted by Driverless Cars.” Driving Towards Driverless Cars. https://drivingtowardsdriverless.com/2015/12/04/how-other-industries-will-be-impacted-by-driverless-cars/ (accessed September 8, 2016).
5 Isaac, Lauren. “Driving Towards Driverless.”
6 Sloan, Sean. “As Federal Autonomous Vehicle Policy is Issued, States Poised to Move Quickly.” The Council of State Governments. September 22, 2016. http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/kc/content/federal-autonomous-vehicle-policy-issued-states-poised-move-quickly (accessed September 26, 2016).
7 Isaac, Lauren. “Driving Towards Driverless.”
8 Vlasic, Bill and Neal E. Boudette. “As U.S. Investigates Fatal Tesla Crash, Company Defends Autopilot.” The New York Times. July 12, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/13/business/tesla-autopilot-fatal-crash-investigation.html?_r=1.
9 McMahon, Jeff. “Software is the Last Obstacle to Fully Autonomous Vehicles, Elon Musk Says.” Forbes. August 4, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2016/08/04/software-is-the-last-obstacle-to-fully-autonomous-vehicles-elon-musk-says/#37d4d1f83d60.
10 Quain, John. “Makers of Self-Driving Cars Ask What to Do With Human Nature.” The New York Times. July 7, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/08/automobiles/wheels/makers-of-self-driving-cars-ask-what-to-do-with-human-nature.html.
11 Schooley, Tim. “Autonomous vehicle task force working to provide guidelines on remote testing.” Pittsburgh Business Times. July 12, 2016. http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/blog/morning-edition/2016/07/autonomous-vehicle-task-force-working-to-provide.html.
12 Zurschmeide, Jeff. “What Happens to Drivers? The Ripple Effects of Autonomous Cars Go Beyond Safety.” Digital Trends. July 7, 2016. http://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/will-self-driving-cars-cost-us-jobs/.
13 Hiltzik, Michael. “Is the world ready for driverless cars? Are driverless cars ready for the world?” Los Angeles Times. May 6, 2016. http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-driverless-cars-20160506-snap-story.html.
14 Goddin, Paul. “Uber’s plan for self-driving cares bigger than its taxi disruption.” Mobility Lab. August 18, 2015. http://mobilitylab.org/2015/08/18/ubers-plan-for-self-driving-cars-bigger-than-its-taxi-disruption/.