Authorities will have to introduce strict regulations to ensure the safe introduction of autonomous vehicles (AVs) on public roads, according to a white paper published by Utrecht-based company 2getthere
Called Safety in Autonomous Transit, the report states that authorities should set more firm conditions on road safety, reliability and availability of these vehicles and also for the spatial planning of public areas where AVs operate.
2getthere highlights that governments will have to set tighter requirements for manufacturers of AVs to ensure passenger safety. Additionally, a level of safety will have to be defined which manufacturers must be able to guarantee in practical tests in a controlled environment. The company proposes that designs should be tested for road safety by independent assessors who should also assess public areas and traffic situations where the vehicles will run.
The paper claims that a step-by-step approach will is the best option for ensuring that the introduction of AVs will not compromise passenger safety or the environment. 2getthere refers to examples where these vehicles are being deployed successfully at airports, campuses and amusement parks. The company recommends that AVs should initially be introduced in relatively controlled environments, where the amount of possible interactions with traffic can be limited.
Robbert Lohmann, 2getthere’s chief commercial officer, says: “A call for stricter regulations will most likely result in a shakeout in the supply side of the market. In this whitepaper, we conclude that the industry is a long way away from making autonomous vehicles that are as safe in mixed traffic as, for instance, city buses with professional drivers. We believe it remains to be seen if all manufacturers currently in the market have the commitment for the long haul or the knowledge and expertise to take the necessary steps.”
“Stricter requirements will increase the cost of the introduction of autonomous vehicles. Higher cost levels will cause municipal governments to shift their focus from yet more demonstrations to permanent and commercially viable solutions. In the short term, this may seem to slow down the market introduction, but in fact, it will speed up the actual utilization of autonomous vehicles. For this reason, we suggest taking a pragmatic approach, in which autonomous vehicles are first introduced in semi-controlled environments before we take the step of deploying them in fully uncontrolled environments”, Lohmann adds.
A copy of the white paper is available here.