Have safety worries put the brakes on automated driving?

It’s an issue I have discussed extensively with the industry — and relevant authorities — and it seems a major stumbling block is the lack of widespread, independent safety regulation. The public knows that conventional vehicles are strictly regulated, and that human drivers have to take a test, yet there are no equivalent standards for AVs. The U.S. and the EU, for example, publish voluntary guidelines only.

It’s not that the industry is unconcerned about AV safety — far from it. Ensuring safety is something developers work very hard on. This year, 11 industry leaders (including Audi, BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen) published an in-depth whitepaper on the issue of AV safety.

But we have to accept that commercial organizations might bend their own safety standards in the race to market — hence self-certification is not an option. Instead, there is an absolute need for regulated safety standards verified by an external authority; and that is where the problems get sticky.