On November 11, NSPE submitted public comment to the California Department of Motor Vehicles regarding the department’s revised draft regulations for the deployment of autonomous vehicles, issued on September 30. In the draft regulations, the CDMV allows manufacturers and suppliers to self-certify, thereby eliminating a critical third-party safety check.
NSPE urges the CDMV to include the requirement for a vehicle demonstration test to be conducted by a professional engineer, internal to the development company. The 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. A century of experience demonstrates that protection of public safety is best served when there is someone in the decision chain who does not face pressure from shareholders or non-technical management to meet budget, project timeline, or sales projections. A professional engineer is uniquely well-positioned to serve in this capacity. “The design, development and deployment of autonomous vehicles should not be treated any differently and should require the involvement of professional engineers to give the highest level of assurance to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare,” wrote NSPE President Kodi Jean Verhalen, P.E., Esq., F.NSPE. “The risk posed by failing to adequately address public safety protections are too great to ignore.”