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#137067 - 06/15/17 06:36 PM On-going preliminaries to Legislation
alexd Offline
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For Immediate Release

June 15, 2017

Private Sector, Legislators Examine a Future of Driverless Vehicles

WASHINGTON, DC The world of driverless cars got a closer look this week; specifically, a review of what the legal landscape might be as we inch closer to this reality. Academics, attorneys, policymakers, researchers and regulators filled the room in Washington, DC as questions about regulations, standards, and rules of liability for these vehicles of the future were raised.

At a legal symposium hosted by the George Washington University School of Law, the evolution of the technology was discussed giving wide recognition that, with the number of manufacturers and automakers delving into the arena, the next five years will be transformative to the auto industry. However, this transformation wouldn't be without some risk. While the potential benefits to these self-driving vehicles was acknowledged, (including the elimination of human error which accounted for over 90% of crashes in 2015) the potential risks are also being realized almost as quickly as the technology itself is developing.


Apart from the obvious, such as potential job loss for drivers, and concerns over how to safeguard data privacy and security, and ethical considerations, there exist other nuanced possibilities with the widespread deployment of these vehicles. For example, if human error is eliminated through the prevalent use of this technology, organ donation is likely to plummet. Many state budgets are funded through mechanisms like red light and speeding cameras. If these automated vehicles are required to follow the law, there are concerns over what that might mean for state budgets. Other and more practical concerns were raised during the symposium including how would the technology respond to hand signals from law enforcement directing traffic? For motorcyclists, their concerns are also of a practical nature; how are fully automated vehicles detecting motorcycles given their smaller profile on the road and are they able to appropriately respond? The Motorcycle Riders Foundation raised such concerns throughout the symposium citing a recent incident in Phoenix, Arizona where a car on autopilot crashed into a parked motorcycle. To date, many of the technology developers as well as the automakers have not addressed motorcyclists concerns outright, instead only suggesting that they are taking motorcyclists into consideration into their algorithms. However, they neglect to explain how.


One exception to this is Ford Motor Company which recently acknowledged the difficulty in accounting for motorcycles in relation to automation in vehicles, especially when it comes to motorcyclists who engage in lane filtering. Recently, Ford was granted a patent to address this issue which is becoming more and more prevalent especially in major cities. According to the patent, Ford's solution uses a combination of microphones and video cameras to detect the sound and shape of an approaching motorcycle. Once the motorcycle has been detected, the autonomous vehicle then has the option of not changing lanes, signaling longer, or changing lanes more slowly.


Of course, lane filtering is only one of the unique properties inherent to motorcyclists and there are many others according to the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. The MRF is seeking assurances that any federal automated vehicle policy includes key considerations that are exclusive to motorcycles, said Megan Ekstrom, Vice-President of Government Affairs for the organization. We want to work with Congress and policymakers to ensure that the unique needs and requirements of motorcyclists across the U.S. are being considered and accounted for. She went on to say, Given motorcyclist's smaller profile on our nationl roadways in comparison to automobiles, commercial trucks, and other road users, assurances and requirements must be met to ensure that any technology can adequately and appropriately identify and respond to motorcycles in all traffic situations.

The general public shares some of the concerns expressed by the organization. In fact, a recent survey by Moodys suggests that there is a general feeling of uncertainly as to whether automated vehicles will make the nation's roadways safer or less safe. Overall, the under 40 demographic felt more positive and comfortable with the technology, while those over 40 expressed misgivings and concerns about privacy issues. Though generally, all demographics agreed that the government needs to have some role concerning the regulation over the testing and deployment of these vehicles.


Not far down the road from the location of the symposium, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation was examining similar issues in a hearing titled, Paving the Way for Self-Driving Vehicles. The hearing explored automated vehicle technology and hurdles for testing and deployment in the U.S. The hearing also examined state and federal roles to ensure safety while promoting innovation and American competitiveness. The hearing came hours after the Committee released principles for bipartisan legislation on self-driving vehicles. The principles (available to the public on the Committee's website) promote innovation while prioritizing safety and suggest that the federal and state role in governing this technology should be clearly defined. Of note, there was also a principle placing emphasis on privacy, suggesting that legislation must address the connectivity of self-driving vehicles and potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities before they compromise safety:


Current federal motor vehicle safety standards do not address automated technologies, and in some cases directly conflict with them. We are looking for ways to address these conflicts in dated rules without weakening the important vehicle safety protections they provide. We also must be careful to avoid picking winners and losers in this space. Self-driving vehicles may employ different technologies, and their deployment may follow varying business models. So, it is important for Congress not to favor one path before the market figures out what really works best.


The quote, from Senator Thune (R-SD) who serves as Chair of the Committee aligned with his colleagues; Senators Nelson (D-FL) and Peters (D-MI), who also helped to conceptualize and draft the principles, While these principles are just a start, it's my hope we'll find bipartisan consensus on legislation that prioritizes safety and advances the technology,” said Nelson, the committee's ranking member. Thune, Peters, and Nelson will continue efforts to finalize legislation, however no date or deadline for introduction has been set.


As the government and industry attempt to strike a proper balance between protecting the public and not unduly stifling innovation, the roles of the federal, state, and local governments, as well as the courts will need to address the many vital issues that were examined in Washington this week related to autonomous vehicles. Another entity to watch? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA, who has been largely silent on the matter since releasing voluntary guidelines last fall. However, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said that NHTSA would be issuing a new iteration in the coming months.


For motorcyclists, they'll be closely scrutinizing the revised guidance and all the activity coming out of the Agency and Congress hoping that their presence and unique attributes make them a part of the discussion going forward, and not simply an afterthought.


About Motorcycle Riders Foundation
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) provides leadership at the federal level for states motorcyclists rights organizations as well as motorcycle clubs and individual riders. The MRF is chiefly concerned with issues at the national and international levels that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. The MRF is committed to being a national advocate for the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle and works in conjunction with its partners to help educate elected officials and policymakers in Washington and beyond.

All Information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution.

Alexd
Copywrite/attribution MRF


Edited by alexd (06/15/17 06:38 PM)
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#137074 - 06/16/17 06:29 PM Re: On-going preliminaries to Legislation [Re: alexd]
Muniac Offline


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This is interesting technology. My read is it will have limited application and in those areas hopefully provide improvements. It's also a lawyer's wet dream when accidents and injuries start. Will be interesting to see a piece of robotics technology appear in the courtroom.

Moose, elk and deer weren't mentioned either. Throw in black ice and hydro planing.

I think dollars would be better spent on developing tools to assist a driver rather than a complete replacement.

We could do a lot to improve highway safety (for all). First by reasserting the notion that driving is a privilege and with it comes responsibilities. Better training is implied here. With the video gaming technology so advanced, driving simulators could provide advanced training.

The 90% stat on accidents being caused by driver error is a good number. Seems we could work on making a better driver and start working that number down to maybe 50%. Accidents are lucrative for some. And that some often makes the laws.

Removing cars from the road by providing better transportation options should be explored. And it is with HyperLoop technology.
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#137078 - 06/16/17 09:25 PM Re: On-going preliminaries to Legislation [Re: Muniac]
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I can imagine driverless vehicles, especially in heavily populated urban areas, if and when technological concerns, such as how such vehicles will account for and accommodate motorcyclists, are fully addressed. On the other hand it's difficult to imagine driverless vehicles fitting into the sort of rural life we enjoy here in the west.
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#137082 - 06/17/17 03:05 PM Re: On-going preliminaries to Legislation [Re: alexd]
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Should be interest to see this develop. I remember when "car phones" came on the scene. AT&T ran ads for them, featuring a corporate executive female driving to the airport suddenly remembering she forgot an important document. The tag line was, "That's why you got the car phone!"

FF the tape and we all know how phones in cars evolved. Certainly not what was expected when the new technology made its debut. I'd guess the same will happen with driverless vehicles albeit in a much more complex wrapping with many more issues.

It's man's destiny to invent and invent he does.
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#137086 - 06/17/17 05:48 PM Re: On-going preliminaries to Legislation [Re: Muniac]
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I'll be intrigued to see/hear about the algorithms used for the car's primitive A.I.

Did you ever play a game with yourself (or someone asked you as a child) tormenting questions like "What would you do if your Mother and Father were both about to fall off of a cliff, and you had time to only save one of them!?"

What will the A.I. imperatives be? Who will set up programming that the car should "prefer" to kill a single-rider motorcyclist, instead of a family inside of a car...if the A.I. car has no choice but to hit one or the other? There are many essentially similar situations to this in real life.

Playing the "game" further. Should the A.I. car "prefer" to kill a handicapped older person, as opposed to a child?

Wonderful new territory for Lawsuits...

Alexd
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#137095 - 06/18/17 06:10 PM Re: On-going preliminaries to Legislation [Re: alexd]
Muniac Offline


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Yup the lawyers are going to love this technology. How we accept the collateral damage is also a factor. I still think this technology may see only limited application(s). Developing driver aids would be time better spent IMHO. No need, at this point, to go for a full replacement. Although I see drivers everyday I'd like to replace.
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#137096 - 06/18/17 07:40 PM Re: On-going preliminaries to Legislation [Re: Muniac]
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Originally Posted By: Muniac
...I still think this technology may see only limited application(s). Developing driver aids would be time better spent IMHO..

+1..
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#137110 - 06/19/17 03:27 PM Re: On-going preliminaries to Legislation [Re: alexd]
Muniac Offline


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Technology developments are interesting. First out of the gate during the promotional/concept phase they seem wonderful and all powerful. R&D funding begins then reality starts to set in. Hard limits are hit and practical concerns surface meaning the solution isn't as good as originally thought.

That's not to say such things aren't good ideas or worth developing. Separating the facts and practicalities from the emotions is what's hard. As for great ideas, not all of them make it to the market as intended. I think driverless vehicles will be a textbook example of the above.
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#137112 - 06/19/17 08:36 PM Re: On-going preliminaries to Legislation [Re: Muniac]
alexd Offline
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One could take a cynical but practical attitude, and watch the highway death rates go waaaaay down. Texting, drunk driving, and falling asleep would be the factors removed by A.I. The EXTRA deaths due to programming failures would probably be small in comparison (not that THAT makes the unlucky pedestrian or motorcyclist, etc. any happier)

Alexd
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#137121 - 06/20/17 03:52 PM Re: On-going preliminaries to Legislation [Re: alexd]
Muniac Offline


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No one argues the accuracy of machine automation and the value(s) of it over certain human driven processes. My CNC mill is a good example. It does things impossible on a manual hand wheel mill.

The manual mill is a less sophisticated tool and blends both man and machine together to accomplish a goal. The key is knowing which one works best and using each to its advantage.

Driving is a somewhat different animal. As in one irresponsible driver can cause fatalities. Circumstances surrounding death trigger different responses, however. As a society we seem more concerned about some deaths and less about others. This varies from country to country too. So where (in the world) does AI driving technology stand the best chances for success? Maybe India's Grand Trunk Road??

I don't believe an AI device completely replacing a driver has a bright future here in the USA. Claims of reduced fatalities and injuries aren't proven either. It sounds reasonable but....... Lots can go wrong. Look at Arizona's photo enforcement zones and what a mess that turned into. Things didn't work as planned.

I still say lots can be done to improve highway safety. First working on driver training and second providing safety tools and devices to assist (not replace) a human driver. This keeps the doors of opportunity open for both high tech and traditional interests to make contributions (and money).

As for AI drivers, how would you feel if someday driving a car (the old way) becomes illegal?
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