The Automated Vehicle Symposium took place in San Francisco July 9-12. I.I.I.’s Brent Carris files this report.
Gaining consumer trust is essential to the success of automated vehicle (AV) deployment. It was a point stressed continuously throughout the conference.
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary, Elaine Chao, along with many others, noted that 94 percent of auto accidents occur due to human error. AV control can drastically reduce human error-caused accidents but reaching the “0” level of accidents will be a long work in progress. Joint data sharing by public and private institutions is imperative in the transition to an AV world.
During Secretary Chao’s keynote address, she emphasized the six principles that govern DOT policy for AV technology regulation:
- Safety is top priority
- Policies will be flexible and tech-neutral
- Regulations will be performance based
- The DOT will collaborate with states and localities
- The Department will provide stakeholders with assistance to facilitate the safe integration of AV systems into the transportation system, and;
- The Department recognizes that autonomous vehicles will have to operate side-by-side with traditional vehicles, in both urban and rural areas
Chao briefly discussed insurance, saying “Insurance frameworks are adaptable to the AV world.” Timely data sharing by auto manufacturers and other AV data collectors with insurance companies will be necessary to facilitate proper insurance coverage. Data could be used to establish: Liability in the event of an accident; accurate underwriting and pricing of insurance policies; risk mitigation and control measures. Insurance companies will have to take a proactive approach to ensure timely data sharing and develop consumer perceptions on safety, liability, and coverage for AVs.
In a white paper issued to coincide with the event, the Travelers Institute outlined its views on how autonomous vehicles will change the personal and commercial auto insurance markets.
The DOT announced the third iteration of its Automated Vehicles policy document is slated for release by the end of 2018. The Automated Driving System 2.0: A Vision for Safety was downloaded over 125,000 times since its release in 2017. The 3.0 version will focus on AV development across all modes of transportation – passenger vehicles, trucks, rail, and maritime.
Another important topic was preparing U.S. workers and employers for the automated vehicle future. Lessons from past transitions show that while initial job displacement may occur, full employment eventually returns.
A Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) study estimated that the advent of AVs are projected to increase the unemployment rate to a small degree in the 2030s and to a somewhat larger degree in the late 2040s, with a peak, temporary addition to unemployment rates of 0.06–0.13 percentage points. However, an estimated $800 billion will eventually be gained in annual societal benefits due to accident reduction (economic impact and quality of life improvements), congestion mitigation, reduced oil consumption and from the value of time gained from AV. Many speakers stressed that planning for an AV future should start now.