The U.S. Department of Transportation has rolled out guidelines that urge car makers and other developers to submit to a 15-point “safety assessment.” They outline how driverless cars are tested, safeguarded should systems fail and how vehicles are programmed to comply with existing traffic laws. They set clear expectations for manufacturers developing and deploying automated vehicle technologies.
The U.S. Federal Automated Vehicles Policy [PDF] is designed to help guide the safe development of driverless tech, while also allowing flexibility so that companies can continue to innovate in this space.
The 15-point checklist by the government is asking anyone making driverless vehicles to fill out as a way to help regulators ensure due process around safety is being followed by all involved.
In his introductory message in the report, the DOT Secretary Anthony R. Foxx said self-driving car raises more possibilities and more questions than perhaps any other transportation innovation under present discussion.
He added that despite possessing the potential to uproot personal mobility as we know it making it safer, more ubiquitous and perhaps more efficient, self-driving cars have become the archetype of future transportation.
He stated: “Still, important concerns emerge. Will they fully replace the human driver? What ethical judgments will they be called upon to make? What socioeconomic impacts flow from such a dramatic change? Will they disrupt the nature of privacy and security?”
According to the DOT, the policy is a product of significant public input and stakeholder discussions, including two open public meetings this year and an open public docket for comments. The is also soliciting additional public comments for the next 60 days on the policy
Co-founder of Karamba Security, David Barzilai, believes that the DOT guidelines for self-driving cars are timely.
The automotive cybersecurity stated via email: “Navigant Research projects that by 2020, 25% of shipped cars will support different levels of autonomy, growing to 44% of all shipped cars in 2025. These levels, established by the NHTSA and SAE, range from braking and acceleration to auto sensing cars and changing lanes to complete autonomy with the car controlling all safety-critical functions through the entire trip.
“The DOT guidelines indicate the need for cybersecurity best practices and call upon industry technology companies and the car manufacturers to share knowledge and create them. DOT expects such best practices to be embedded in the designs of the autonomous cars. The leading car companies and Tier-1 providers have already started to create internal methods for hardening cars against hackers.
“Yet, they have been experiencing a gap between common enterprise cybersecurity methodologies that protect against data loss and in-car security that protects against fatalities and damages. Both NHTSA and the industry are seeking solutions that will enable the prevention of attacks, not just detection, without risking lives due to false alarms, problems that can lead to legitimate car commands failing to execute, such as airbag deployment.”
Barzilai added that though not a simple task but absolutely critical, preventing cyberattacks is more important than detecting them hence the need for the industry to stop hackers before they penetrate cars.
Image from iStock/Jason Doiy.