- Ford, General Motors and Toyota will partner with SAE International to develop a safety and testing framework for autonomous vehicles (AVs). The Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium (AVSC) will focus on safety principles for Level 4 and Level 5 vehicles before they reach roadways.
- AVSC’s first product will be a roadmap of priorities for developers, manufacturers and partners that will have to integrate AVs, and will focus on safe testing guidelines, vehicle interactions on the road and data sharing.
- In a press release, Edward Straub, director of automation at SAE International and executive director of the consortium, said "industry collaboration, cohesion and flexibility to merge new ideas with proven safety processes are critical."
Even as automakers ramp up public tests of AVs — including the launch of Waymo’s driverless taxi service in Arizona — consumer enthusiasm continues to lag. A recent AAA survey found 71% of Americans are fearful of riding in an AV, and other polls have found safety concerns are a major barrier. AVSC is positioning itself as a way automakers can show the public they are taking a serious approach to safely integrating the cars into traffic.
The partnership also comes as federal rules around AVs have largely stalled. Congress failed to pass an AV bill last year, although sponsors are working on a new version. The Department of Transportation, meanwhile, has taken a largely hands-off approach, leaving some states and cities to craft their own rules. Automakers are fearful of a patchwork of regulations, so setting an overarching safety framework with the cooperation of three major companies could fill the gaps while Congress continues its work.
It also follows a flurry of other AV collaborations, including the education campaign Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE), the Department of Transportation’s Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council (NETT), and the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets. AVSC seeks to focus on the safety framework before AVs reach the roads, with an eye towards aligning with other standards bodies from around the world.