USDOT Initiative Promotes “Safety” of Autonomous Vehicles to the Motoring Public
Washington D.C. – The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) this week announced a new initiative to speed testing and widespread deployment of autonomous vehicles (AV) on America’s roadways.
On Monday, the USDOT announced the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing (AV TEST) Initiative.
The Department says it will “improve the safety and testing transparency of automated driving systems.”
The AV TEST Initiative will include a series of public events across the country in which participants can share information about their activities.
USDOT leaders are hoping these events will “help increase the public’s awareness of testing, centralize the Department’s role in promoting safety and innovation, and build stronger relationships among Federal, State, and local governments and stakeholders.”
The participating companies are Beep, Cruise, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Local Motors, Navya, Nuro, Toyota, Uber, and Waymo.
The States are California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah.
Building Public Acceptance
In its fourth edition of Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies report (AV 4.0), released earlier this year, the USDOT once again pledged that America would lead the world in AV “technology development and integration.”
AV 4.0 argues “advances in these [autonomous] technologies can reduce roadway crashes, fatalities, and injuries and assist the USDOT in managing safety risks along the path to the full commercial integration of AV technology.”
However, the USDOT has acknowledged a significant barrier to widespread adoption of AVs is public distrust in the safety of the technology.
In other words, a sizable percentage of the U.S. motoring public isn’t yet buying the promised safety benefits.
Earlier this year, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), which is the research arm of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), urged the USDOT and U.S. lawmakers to do more to educate the public on the potential safety benefits of AVs even when the inevitable reality of AV-involved crashes occur.
“It is important for the public to understand that AVs will not be 100 percent accident-free, but public education programs using AV testing outcomes can have a positive impact on public perception,” ATRI said in a report.
ATRI also called the testing and deployment of autonomous trucks (AT) a “top research priority.”
As for the USDOT, it is clear the Department views itself as a partner with AV and AT companies.
The new AV TEST Initiative is simply another example of that partnership on the path to public acceptance and widespread adoption of AVs.