Self-driving cars get a safety blueprint
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Self-driving cars get a safety blueprint

Self-driving cars have been given the biggest and most comprehensive safety blueprint available thanks to Aptiv, Baidu, and nine of the other biggest players in the space. Given that self-driving vehicles are often billed by proponents as a solution to the millions of injuries and deaths that occur on roads around the world each year, the new white paper is a welcome addition to a growing body of work around the technology’s safety.

Aptiv’s share price has increased by 29% so far this year

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Source: Yahoo Finance

The document, which has been designed to evolve over time, lays out 12 design principles which the paper’s eleven authors think are critical to the engineering of automated vehicles. They include things like proper cybersecurity, protection in the event that the system should degrade or fail, and rules governing the interaction of vehicle and operator. They also include specifications as to how the automated vehicle should behave, ensuring it is predictable for the user, and intuitive for “surrounding road users”.

Safety concerns over the fast-growing technology have blossomed recently, and moral philosophers have found themselves surprisingly in demand. Bigger questions over self-driving vehicles include things like: ‘if a crash is unavoidable, and a self-driving car must choose between the death of its passenger[s] or the death of a pedestrian[s], what should it do?’

The current document doesn’t delve quite that far into the hypothetical – although undoubtedly such answers will, at some point, have to be forthcoming. Rather, it focuses on common-sense guidelines and technical concerns, aiming at the creation of a standardised toolkit for self-driving vehicles. If it succeeds at setting a standard for the industry, it will go a long way towards ameliorating the public’s apparent mistrust of a technology that could, if the companies in the space are to be believed, save millions of lives a year.

Dominion holds Aptiv, Baidu, and other companies working in the self-driving vehicle space in its Global Trends Managed Fund.

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