A U.S. consumer advocacy group, Consumer Watchdog, called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue strict guidelines on the rules governing autonomous vehicles as they move closer to reality on public highways.
According to a report by CCJ magazine, the group is urging NHTSA to ensure a steering wheel, brake and accelerator are mandatory in in all autonomous vehicles so a human driver can take control when necessary.
The group asked NHTSA to place these requirements in the guidelines the agency is developing on automated vehicle technology. To-date, all the experimental autonomous truck technologies being tested on the market have included each.
“Deploying a vehicle today without a steering wheel, brake, accelerator and a human driver capable of intervening when something goes wrong is not merely foolhardy. It is dangerous,” says John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director. “NHTSA’s autonomous vehicle guidelines must reflect this fact.”
Under California’s self-driving car testing requirements, companies testing autonomous technologies are required to file disengagement reports with detailed explanations when a test driver took control of a vehicle operating in autonomous mode. The reports shows vehicles are not always capable of “seeing” pedestrians, cyclists, traffic lights, low-hanging branches or the proximity of parked cars. The vehicles are also are not capable of reacting to reckless behavior of others on the road quickly enough to avoid the consequences, the reports suggested.