Guest: Phil Koopman, safety expert and professor at Carnegie Mellon University
Our podcast this week looks back on what happened in 2023 on the safety of robotaxis and advanced driver assistance systems, and what we expect in 2024.
The failures of some automakers were obvious. But haven’t regulators also failed us as much, or more? Why does it always take something really big to happen before regulators wake and take action?
Listen to the full podcast to hear the concerns over Level 3 vehicles in 2024, what Koopman’s number one wish in 2024 when it comes to safety.
In 2023, we saw GM/Cruise robotaxis’ unhuman-like misbehavior and malfunctions, crashing into buses, fire trucks, cyclists, and pedestrians. In November, after a robotaxi dragged a pedestrian who’d been hit by another car, the California Department of Motor Vehicles moved to revoke its purveyor’s permit.
Tesla’s Autopilot, on the other hand, has been the target of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since August 2021. It took NHTSA more than two years – along with a string of fatal crashes – to cite safety concerns for Tesla’s Autopilot, citing its likelihood of “foreseeable misuse.”
The safety regulator’s announcement on Wednesday resulted in Tesla recalling more than two million vehicles in the US to install new safeguards in its Autopilot ADAS.
Regulatory oversight or court system?
Koopman explains, “As a matter of public policy choice, you can either have a big regulatory stick upfront or you could use a much lighter touch but the threat of big lawsuits and tort law can put pressure on companies to behave well.”
The problem, however, is when you have neither.
“The US tradition is the court system with teeth, not the regulators,” said Koopman, but what we saw in 2023 is that many states, as a result of aggressive lobbying activities by the autonomous vehicle industry group, “pulled all the teeth out of the tort system.”
Junko Yoshida is the editor in chief of The Ojo-Yoshida Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright permission/reprint service of a full Ojo-Yoshida Report story is available for promotional use on your website, marketing materials and social media promotions. Please send us an email at email@example.com for details.