Guardrails are good for all drivers. And cars, even those without a driver.
With self-driving cars being the new innovation in transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation has had to address the concept of driverless cars sharing the road with vehicles that have human drivers.
With that, cars that have their own memories and can gather a near-infinite amount of data about driving habits and tendencies from other drivers essentially can have an advantage over other human drivers to be a safe option for transporting people and freight.
Human drivers can be very emotional and are not as able to store information from prior driving situations. This means that human drivers can often repeat some of the same mistakes they made in the past that put them in risky situations.
An advantage that driverless cars have is that they can often take information from the behaviors and actions of other drivers, plus its own, and process those mistakes and store them so they are often able to compensate for past mistakes and “remember” them so they are less likely to repeat them.
Even as driverless cars have advantages that would seem to suggest that they have potential to be the safest cars on the road, the reality is that crashes can and will still occur. And in that context, as technology continues to advance where humans are less and less needed for driving vehicles, guidelines for transportation are now applying more to the machines and less to the humans.
Yes, USDOT now wants to put forth guidance for driverless cars. It is one thing to try to keep emotional humans driving rationally, but what now? Giving emotional guidelines for emotionless and fully rational cars?
Anyway, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in introducing in the new driverless-car guidance that a “self-driving car raises more possibilities and questions than perhaps any other transportation innovation under present discussion.”
As these vehicles evolve at an ever-quickening rate, DOT is taking steps to stay abreast of the innovations and update guidance so that driverless vehicles are introduced into the transportation system as seamlessly as possible. The three basic realities off which the guidance is based are:
- Innovations will continue.
- DOT will look to interpret safety innovations into actionable guidance and measurement for the benefit of all vehicles on the road.
- The current guidance is designed to be foundational for future guidance as innovations continue and driverless-car technology improves. This framework is expected to remain in place for any and all future guidance.
You can check out the full USDOT policy and guidance at this link.