Traffic Safety Administration preparing for robot cars

David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told an industry gathering sponsored by Swedish automaker Volvo and the Swedish Embassy in Washington,

“Automated vehicles offer an important and challenging method for reducing crash risk that we believes holds great promise,” Strickland said. He noted that human error was a factor in about 90 percent of the over 33,000 traffic deaths recorded in 2010. “We have the chance of … saving thousands and thousands of lives as” cars in use today are replaced with automated vehicles, he said.

Another interesting bit:

He declined to say when the government might propose safety standards for automated cars. Setting such standards would require the government to fundamentally rethink the way it evaluates auto safety, he said.

“We may have to depend on modeling and simulation of detailed traffic interactions that lead to crashes as opposed to the typical crash-testing model that we’ve used … over the past 40 years,” Strickland said.

Key questions will be whether the software in automated cars will be able to handle complicated driving situations and whether there will always need to be a human driver paying attention and ready to step in.

Also check out this story about Nissan implementing semi-robot cars without drivers even knowing about it.  There will soon be a camera and computer controlling some motors in between the steering wheel you hold and the actual steering column.

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  • Adam Herstein

    Those robot cars only work on the highway, where there are no pedestrians or cyclists. The use of robot cars will only improve safety for those driving cars.