Last Wednesday, Uber announced that residents of San Francisco could call rides in autonomous vehicles. In response, the CaliforniaDepartment of Motor Vehicles issued a cease-and-desist letter to Uber saying that their testing of autonomous vehicles was illegal. This display of the “precautionary principle,” though well-intentioned, hurts entrepreneurship. To foster innovation and growth of self-driving vehicles, California should allow Uber to test its cars and rely on the legal system to provide redress for any harms.
In their letter to Uber, the California DMV said:
“California Vehicle Code Section 38750 and California Code of Regulations Article 3.7 clearly establish that an autonomous vehicle may be tested on public roads only if the vehicle manufacturer, including anyone that installs autonomous technology on a vehicle, has obtained a permit to test such vehicles from the DMV.”
However, Uber’s vehicles are not considered autonomous vehicles under the laws referenced in the letter. California Vehicle Code Section 38750 defines an autonomous vehicle as “any vehicle equipped with autonomous technology that has been integrated into that vehicle.” And it defines autonomous technology as “technology that has the capability to drive a vehicle without the active physical control or monitoring by a human operator.” The code also defines an operator as “the person who is seated in the driver’s seat.”
Continue reading at San Francisco Examiner.
Technological advancement that changes the way everyday consumers live seems to come in pairs — affordable automobiles and television, the internet and cellphones, autonomous vehicles and ultrafast 5G mobile data networks. And where there’s innovation, regulation tends to follow.
A group of auto manufacturers and tech companies including Intel, BMW, Nokia, and Huawei recently announced the formation of the 5G Automotive Association aimed at speeding the development and adoption of 5G networks by overcoming both technical and regulatory obstacles. Auto manufacturers and mobile companies alike envision a future where autonomous vehicles and 5G networks — which will offer up to 100 times current mobile data speeds — work together to improve safety, efficiency, and in-vehicle entertainment. However, while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to create a favorable regulatory environment for 5G networks, local governments play a critical role in allowing the technology to revolutionize people’s lives.
It’s a decision governments will have to make since autonomous vehicles and 5G networks are becoming a reality. Currently, 5G networks are still in development. T-Mobile and Ericssonannounced on Sept. 20 that they have reached mobile data speeds of 12 Gbps, which is ridiculously fast. Huawei estimates that the first 5G networks will roll out in limited settings as early as 2018 and reach consumers in 2020.
Interestingly, 2020 is also the year some of the first autonomous vehicles will likely go on sale. Audi, for instance, promises to have a fully autonomous electric Sedan available for sale in 2020. The technologies will grow together since consumers, freed from the demands of driving, will increasingly demand more data at faster speeds. Plus, the vehicles themselves will use the ultrafast networks to communicate with each other and smart infrastructure.
Continue reading at The Hill.
Three numbers: 35,200 people were killed in auto accidents last year; 94 percent of car crashes are due to human error; 613,501 lives have been saved by advances in auto safety over the past 50 years. Thesenumbers form the basis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head’s argument for autonomous vehicles and a friendly regulatory environment.
Ironically, though, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also considering premarket approval and post-sale regulations that would restrict the development and improvement of autonomous vehicles even more than “dumb” vehicles, potentially leading to the unnecessary loss of life.
In a speech on Monday at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said that his agency’s goal is to create “a framework that will speed the development and deployment of technologies with significant lifesaving potential.” However, the very next day, his agency released the long-promised NHTSA guidelines for autonomous vehicles, proposing two new authorities that would do the exact opposite. These new authorities are only options, and the NHTSA is seeking public comment.
The first proposal, the “Considered New Authority” of premarket approval, would require manufacturers to have their models approved before hitting showrooms for sale — a departure from the current process of self-certification. A premarket approval process, the guidelines say, would help the public accept autonomous vehicles. However, this is a long-term solution to a short-term problem; and this new authority not only goes against Rosekind’s own expressed approach but also the way automobiles are made.
Continue reading at RealClearPolicy.