US: NHTSA favors autonomous, connected vehicles image

The US government looks ready to encourage, not hinder, the emerging technologies that will allow vehicles to become fully independent and able to drive themselves and also communicate with each other.

According to the chief of the main federal auto safety agency, autonomous, connected cars will increase road safety and in the end prevent most of traffic accidents, though Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National HIghway Traffic Safety Administration, also pointed out cybersecurity and privacy must reach top levels to secure consumer acceptance. “NHTSA is not interested in erecting roadblocks to safety innovations. We want to encourage that,” commented Rosekind, who held a speech at the Automated Vehicle Symposium. The conference started just a day after the state of Michigan, the University of Michigan and a group of 15 automotive and telecommunication companies inaugurated the 32-acre MCity testing center in Ann Arbor. The proving grounds has been designed from the ground up to simulate scenarios of real-world traffic occurrences and thus speed up the development of autonomous, connected vehicles.

The top federal official’s comments are also a way of alleviating concerns that regulators would wear down the progress of related technologies. “We will have to help people who can’t tell LIDAR from a coffee maker,” Rosekind said. “Whether for profit or for malicious intent we know these systems will become targets for bad actors. We must reassure vehicle owners that their data is secure, their vehicles are secure.” His worries come at a time when many see the rapidly advancing technology ready to safeguard our lives in the traditional sense of avoiding traffic crashes but also warn of certain privacy and cybersecurity flaws.