WASHINGTON – Proposed legislation to regulate driverless cars, which would set safety and testing guidelines, will also require public education programs, senators and auto experts said at a committee hearing Wednesday.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation heard industry testimony on the proposed AV START Act Wednesday.
The legislation would build “on the existing regulatory framework to prioritize safety through increased reporting and oversight, thus promoting public safety and building public confidence and trust,” Senator John Thune (R-SD) said.
Along with its safety and testing guidelines, the bill creates a requirement for responsible consumer education that exhibits cars’ capabilities and how users should interact with them. It establishes a working group to educate passengers on how to use the vehicles’ interfaces and emergency procedures.
“Consumers need to know what they can and cannot do, and how they can interact with vehicles, or we’ll have consumer pushback,” co-author Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) said.
Bosch, which among other products manufactures auto parts, is taking its own initiative to educate passengers. At their “Automated Mobility Academy,” consumers can learn about their vehicle with a course that starts with basic Driver Assistance System and leads into Fully Automated Driving.
Bosch president Michael Mansuetti said there is a “tremendous need” to reach out to consumers and discuss the expectations and interactions they have with these technologies.
Critics of autonomous vehicles say that regulations regarding educating the public are too loose. Kathy Chase, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said consumers need a clear database where they can find guides to their driverless cars, as well as information on recalls and federal safety regulations.
Chase said training in the use of autonomous vehicles should be mandatory on showroom floors, so that buyers leave with a full understanding of their car. She worries that when a new autonomous car becomes a used autonomous car, the new owners will be unfamiliar with the vehicle’s behavior.
Thune says that the bill properly balances safety with the need to promote innovation.