Congress Debates AV Regs Again and other NMA Auto Tech Watch News for February 23, 2020

By Shelia Dunn, NMA Communications Director

Earlier this month, Congress debated autonomous vehicle regulations with much of the discussion on safety and liability over speed to the market.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Representative Frank Pallone said, “Troubling safety incidents, regulatory black holes, and lax oversight threaten to disrupt this critical balance and the future of this technology itself.”

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers countered by stating that too many regulations slow down the rollout of AV technology, which puts America behind other countries.

Congress has already been debating AV regulations for three years. Since that time, automakers have subdued their projections for when AVs will be on the road.

Consumer Reports Manager of Safety Policy William Wallace said recently, “The only bill that should see the light of day out of Congress is one that includes clear, strong rules of the road for driverless cars and sufficient resources for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).”

Jalopnik had some thoughts on the topic with this editorial: Everyone Needs to Stop Assuming Autonomous Vehicles are Going to be Safer than Humans. The writer discusses the logical fallacy that AVs will unquestionably be safer than human drivers. Some excellent points in this ongoing charged debate.

In the meantime, the NHTSA has moved on and approved an autonomous delivery vehicle without brakes. The robotics company Nuro has developed a low-speed driverless delivery vehicle that will not carry humans and will travel no more than 25 mph. The battery-powered drone can be monitored and controlled remotely. The pod-like vehicle will also not have a steering wheel nor windshield wipers. Under temporary approval, the company will be required to make real-time safety reports to the NHTSA.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced that the UK plans to ban all gas and diesel vehicles, including hybrids, by 2035. Apparently, that year has now crept forward to 2032. Singapore also aims to phase out internal combustion engined-vehicles by 2040.

In light of this news and additional information coming out on vehicle electrification, Auto News posted this story with a question: Is it the end of the road for hybrid technology?

Car and Driver had even a better question on something I have wanted to know myself: Self-Driving-Car Research Has Cost $16 Billion. What Do We Have to Show for It? Indeed, worth a read.

Auto Cybersecurity News

An Israeli research team presented a study that looks at cybersecurity within advanced driving assistance systems or ADAS and semi/fully autonomous cars. They explored various attack scenarios on systems concerning virtual perception validation. We need more cybersecurity research on future car designs to make sure the car of the future is safe from hackers.

Researchers from MIT tried just that and announced this week that they tricked a Tesla’s camera with a two-inch piece of tape over a speed limit sign. This hack would be about the easiest anyone could ever do to a driverless vehicle. We really have a long way to go with driverless technology.

Ward’s Auto posted a story: Blockchain May Solve Vehicle Privacy Problem. One quote in the story that I find most interesting and really should sink in for automakers and dealers: “62 percent of consumers would consider one brand over another if it had better security and privacy.” You betcha! In the meantime, SAE International and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) have published a first-of-its-kind standard for automotive cybersecurity engineering.

Buying a Car

The Detroit News asked an excellent question: Where in the world are Detroit’s entry-level vehicles? No wonder the auto industry struggles with selling new cars. Despite what the anti-car crowd keeps shouting—we still need excellent cars, trucks, and SUVs at all price points.

Here are ten more Driving News stories and editorials in the Auto Tech Watch vein that might be of interest to you this week:

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