Autonomous Vehicles

NSPE has been working on multiple fronts to promote and protect the public health, safety, and welfare in the development and deployment of autonomous vehicle technologies. Embracing its Grand Challenge to foster ethical innovation, the Society is taking action to give professional engineers a leading voice in ensuring that the same attention to safety and reliability that went into the built transportation infrastructure is incorporated into autonomous vehicles and smart transportation systems.

NSPE has collaborated with Congress, the Department of Transportation, state DMVs, state societies, and leading industry associations to take a comprehensive and informed approach to testing, development and deployment of autonomous vehicles, incorporating the key role of the licensed professional engineer. To promote public safety for all who interact with autonomous vehicles, NSPE has adopted a policy guide providing public policy decision-makers, regulators, manufacturers, and others with guidelines to measure the safety readiness of autonomous vehicles under consideration for deployment.

Much of the discussion to date has addressed the technology, its capabilities, and the perceived public benefits. However, many questions remain unanswered by industry, which has led to uncertainty within the public regulatory environment. To address this uncertainty, NSPE proposes these outcome-based standards as a starting point for adopting requirements that protect public safety.

In 2017, Congress worked to pass comprehensive autonomous vehicle legislation. HR 3388 & S.B. 1885 would make the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration responsible for regulating self-driving cars, preempting state and local standards.  This legislation would allow automakers to deploy autonomous vehicles without first properly addressing the major safety, technological, and ethical implications. NSPE is working to ensure that these issues, particularly the need for independent certifications, recognition of the limits of the current technologies, and the ethical considerations in deploying such vehicles, are incorporated into legislation and regulations and considered as part of the next federal review of the guidelines.

 NEW: Autonomous Vehicles: A Public Regulatory Policy Guide

To promote public safety for all who interact with autonomous vehicles, NSPE has adopted a policy guide providing public policy decision-makers, regulators, manufacturers, and others with guidelines to measure the safety readiness of autonomous vehicles under consideration for deployment.
> Access the policy guide (free)

Autonomous Vehicles: A Public Regulatory Policy Guide (Print-ready version)

With the introduction of autonomous vehicles, automation is poised to become a much larger part of our transportation environment. To promote public safety for all who interact with autonomous vehicles, NSPE has adopted a policy guide providing public policy decision-makers, regulators, manufacturers, and others with guidelines to measure the safety readiness of autonomous vehicles under consideration for deployment.
> Two-page print-ready version

NSPE’s Position

Because the development of autonomous vehicles will have profound impacts on the public health, safety and welfare, it is the position of NSPE that the testing and deployment of such technologies must include a licensed Professional Engineer. (NSPE Position Statement No. 03-1772—Autonomous Vehicles)

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