The Obama administration’s proposed guidelines for self-driving cars unveiled Tuesday will ask Google, Tesla and Uber — not to mention the rest of the world’s automakers — to do something they are not likely to be thrilled about: share data.
Competitors locked in a cut-throat race to bring fully self-driving cars to American roads are being asked to share experiences with “edge cases,” rare scenarios that pose the most vexing safety challenges. Regulators want them to make vehicle performance assessments public so that all of the companies can learn from the data and enhance safety.
“Highly automated vehicles have great potential to use data sharing to enhance and extend safety benefits,” reads page 18 of the Department of Transportation’s 112-page document. “Thus, each entity should develop a plan for sharing its event reconstruction and other relevant data with other entities.”
That represents a significant shift for automakers and tech companies, who fiercely protect their data and aren’t known for collaboration. While there are commercial business practices and consumer privacy issues to be mindful of, there’s no reason companies shouldn’t share information about dangerous incidents, a senior Transportation Department official told reporters Tuesday.
“People don’t have to make the mistakes their neighbor made,” the official said, on the condition of anonymity. “There’s group learning.”
An estimated 35,200 people were killed in U.S. traffic accidents last year, and self-driving cars are seen as a leap forward that will not only save lives but improve mobility for the elderly and disabled. In drafting the guidelines, regulators have looked to the Federal Aviation Administration as a model. Airline data is shared with a third-party repository system.
But technology companies will probably bristle at having to share data after an accident involving a self-driving car, said Katie Thomson, former senior counsel at the Department of Transportation and FAA and now a partner at the law firm Morrison & Foerster.
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Author: Digital Dealer
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