On October 25, NSPE submitted a formal public comment to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calling for greater involvement by professional engineers in NHTSA’s guidelines for the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles. NHTSA’s recently released Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, while not binding, is a clear indication of the agency’s views on the regulation of this quickly developing technology.
NSPE urges NHTSA to address critical safety and ethical challenges posed by autonomous vehicles, which were not resolved in the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, by supporting a key role for the professional engineer. “These guidelines allow manufacturers and suppliers to self-certify, eliminating a critical third-party safety check,” wrote NSPE President Kodi Jean Verhalen, P.E., Esq., F.NSPE. “In the absence of a third-party certification, verification is needed by a licensed professional engineer, internal to the development company. The licensed professional engineer will affix his or her seal to the engineered component attesting to the conclusion that the design is adequately protective of the public health, safety, and welfare.”