Driving the Future: Transportation Technology and Public Policy

(The following are notes from an NCSL session about DRIVING THE FUTURE: TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY AND PUBLIC POLICY. These are my notes, as presented in the session, without my bias or input unless noted. I may or may not agree with what is said, but wanted you to know what lawmakers are discussing as they deal with Driving the Future: Transportation Technology and Public Policy).

Back to the Future: Converging on Digital Horseless Carriages

Moderator: Rep. Chris Perone, Connecticut & Senator John C. Watkins, Virginia


Rob Strausberg, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

The past:

  • 1957 – A car that drives itself was first introduced in 1958
  • 1966 – cars with driver aid systems, information and routing

The future:

  • June 6, 2012 brand new internet was introduced
  • “The internet of things” where everything, not just computers, gets connected
  • Devices talk to each other and grow autonomous
  • Your refrigerator monitors what you cook and can maintain a grocery list
  • Called machine-to-machine (M2M)


  • Car sharing programs of many different types
  • Using On-Star you can lease your car to others while you are at work

Enabling Technologies already available:

  • Bind spot warnings
  • Lane change assistance
  • Parking assistance
  • Cross traffic alerts
  • Breaking assistance
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lots of government policies being researched
  • Many, many, m any more introduced all the time

Connected/Autonomous car might influence outcome of up to 80% of non-impaired crash scenarios; cars can sense dangers/problems and maneuver appropriately to avoid crash; drive themselves more and more;


  • More levels of automatic driving in 2014-2015 for certain
  • 2/3 of people polled agreed technology can help make driving better and safer (lane departure warnings, blind spot awareness, etc.)
  • But 40% say an autonomous vehicle is a bad idea

Who do they trust to tell them of the positives of autonomous driving?

  • Safety consumer groups
  • NOT the government
  • NOT the vendors

Why would you want an autonomous car?

  • Young and old people vary on the reasons to buy one
  • Young people want more time to do the things while commuting
  • Older people want to maintain independence

Challenges to automated driving:

  • Cost
  • Critical mass of vehicles operating together on the road
  • Interface for human operation
  • Can fix technology problems
  • Consumer acceptance
  • How to transition from human driving to automated driving
  • What happens when some cars are human driven and some are computer driven


Nat Beuse, Vehicle Safety Research, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Research Program Philosophy

  • Mission: reduction of crashes, fatalities, and injuries
  • Aligned with congressional mandates
  • Focused on regulatory outcomes

The Driving Problem

  • Safety (32,788 highway deaths in 2010)(6,000,000 crashes a year)(leading cause of deaths for ages 4-34
  • Mobility (4,200,000,000 hours a travel day)
  • Cost to our environment

Can technology help “driver error?”

Challenges to consumers:

  • How to choose
  • Technology is the same with different names by manufacturers
  • Technology not available as an option in all cars
  • Information is technical and abstract; difficult to understands

Challenge to government

  • Pace of change makes it difficult to evaluate
  • Lack of crash data
  • Difference between passenger vehicles and heavy vehicles; they have different performance aspects/consideration
  • Finding an effective way to help consumers choose

General framework

Target scenarios that account for the most crashes, deaths, and serious injuries

Technologies that help:

  • Electronic stability control
  • Forward collision warning (FCW)
  • Lane departure warning (LDW)
  • These are the building blocks for autonomous driving; must tackle these technologies;
  • These technologies are in more vehicle pricing ranges now; not just in luxury cars; more accessible to more drivers

Decision by federal government on the horizon (this year)

  • Automatic collision notification (alerting emergency personnel if crashed)
  • Crash imminent braking
  • Lane keeping (lane centering)
  • Vehicle communications
  • Blind spot (really successful; consumers love this)

Connected Vehicles (vehicle-to-vehicle, V2V)

  • Cares talking to each other
  • Cars trade information about where they are in space
  • Algorithm sends driver information about possibilities of a crash
  • Lots of advantages the private sector is exploring
  • Government t only interested in safety outcomes
  • Privacy issues being addressed
  • Cyber security being addressed

Automated vehicles

  • GOAL: improve motor vehicle safety by investigating the requirements for automated vehicles
  • Electronic reliability and secure
  • Operational intuitive for drivers
  • Ensure appropriate system performance requirements

Policy statement

Need to inform/guide key stakeholders

Main goals

  • Lay out conceptual framework for analyzing of safety issues
  • Summarize government plan for automated driving
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