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Autonomous Vehicle Technology

Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A Guide for Policymakers

James M. Anderson
Nidhi Kalra
Karlyn D. Stanley
Paul Sorensen
Constantine Samaras
Oluwatobi A. Oluwatola
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: RAND Corporation
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  • Book Info
    Autonomous Vehicle Technology
    Book Description:

    The automotive industry appears close to substantial change engendered by “self-driving” technologies. This technology offers the possibility of significant benefits to social welfare—saving lives; reducing crashes, congestion, fuel consumption, and pollution; increasing mobility for the disabled; and ultimately improving land use. This report is intended as a guide for state and federal policymakers on the many issues that this technology raises.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8439-2
    Subjects: Transportation Studies, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-8)

    The General MotorsFuturamaexhibit presented at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York piqued the collective American and world imagination. Among other wonders, it promised that the United States would have an automated highway system and foretold the coming of a fundamental revolution in the surface transportation of passengers and freight. Today, nearly 75 years later, the advances in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology (also known as automated driving systems) place us on the cusp of that revolution.

    AVs have enormous potential to allow for more productive use of time spent in a vehicle and to reduce crashes, costs of...

  2. (pp. 9-40)

    AVs have the potential to substantially affect safety, mobility, congestion, land use, and the environment. In this chapter, we discuss some of the social costs of transportation and how AVs could affect these costs. In general, we find that AV technology has the potential to substantially reduce many of the existing negative externalities of personal automobile use and create some additional benefits in increased mobility and improving land use. While there are some important disadvantages, we find these are generally outweighed by the advantages.

    However, the extent to which the specific benefit accrues to the purchaser of the car, rather...

  3. (pp. 41-54)

    Interest in driverless cars has led to a flurry of recent legislative activity. As of June 19, 2013, five states had passed legislation authorizing the testing of AVs. Nevada took the lead in June 2011 with a law (Nevada Administrative Code, 2011) that outlined a broad framework for regulating AVs and directed the Nevada DMV (NDMV) to produce regulations (R084-11), which took effect March 1, 2012 (NDMV, 2012). Florida (Florida Statutes, 2012), California (California Vehicle Code, 2012), and Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia, 2013) followed Nevada, with legislation enacted in April 2012, September 2012, January 2013, and May 2013, respectively....

  4. (pp. 55-74)

    In this chapter, we review the history of AV technology and the technology’s status as of July 2013. Our goal is to provide a nontechnical summary of the technology and its limitations for an interested policy audience. The current state of technology in particular is relevant for several near-term policy decisions:

    Will states need to regulate AV models that may each have different operating limitations—and, if so, how?

    What kinds of safety testing and verification will be required before the first AV is commercially available?

    What near-term actions can state and federal transportation agencies take to increase the safety...

  5. (pp. 75-96)

    In this chapter, we discuss the role of telematics to enabling autonomous vehicle technology. First, we discuss the key telematics technology applications that may be used in autonomous vehicles. After discussing why these technologies are important, and the potential technical and public policy issues raised by telematics, we address specific stakeholder concerns and policy issues.

    Telematics, the transfer of data to and from a moving vehicle, will be increasingly important to the future of autonomous vehicle technology for several reasons. First, at least one important vision of autonomous vehicle technology relies upon telematics to continually update the “state of the...

  6. (pp. 97-110)

    In this chapter, we provide an overview of motor-vehicle regulations and standards, and describe the existing regulations and standards for AV technologies. We then provide a general discussion of how and under what circumstances these standards and regulations may need to be developed in the future, drawing on the experiences of air-bag rulemaking in particular.

    Government regulations and engineering standards are policy instruments used to address safety, health, environment, and other public concerns.Regulationsare mandatory requirements developed by policymakers that are specified by law and are enforceable by the government.Standards, in contrast, are engineering criteria developed by the...

  7. (pp. 111-134)

    In Chapter Two, we discussed the advantages of this technology and rough estimates of its short- and long-term implications. While there are considerable uncertainties involved with any new technology, we concluded that there was substantial potential for this technology to improve social welfare. This chapter focuses on the operation of tort liability laws in the United States and its risks to the development of this technology. Gary Marchant and Rachel Lindor (2012, p. 1334) outlined one such scenario:¹

    The technology is potentially doomed if there are a significant number of . . . cases, because the liability burden on the...

  8. (pp. 135-150)

    As discussed in Chapter Two, AV technology offers considerable promise to improving social welfare along a number of dimensions. From safety to congestion to the built environment, AV technology offers potential to improve social welfare. While there are also some important disadvantages and risks associated with this technology, these seem limited compared with the potential gains.

    But the path to AVs realizing this improved social welfare is not preordained. The history of technology in general—and transportation in particular—is littered with promising ideas that never achieved widespread adoption.¹ And even if widespread adoption eventually occurs, thousands may be injured...

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