It seems that regulators are finally working towards making sure that self-driving cars or cars with autopilot systems, actually work and are reliable enough. Tesla has seen its share of controversy whenever a Tesla car is involved in a car crash. Most cases always boil down to drivers not sitting in the driver’s seat and relying too much on the autopilot system when Tesla has said time and time again that their cars require constant driver supervision.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA has taken its first step towards improving road safety by targeting self-driving cars. The rule will help regulators with further law-making and customers to better decide when they go into the market looking for a car with an autopilot.
The new rule states that companies must report all crashes in which semi-autonomous driving assist features like steering assist or automatic lane-keeping are involved. Yes, this includes Tesla as well and especially their ambiguously named Full Self-Driving Beta option. This rule applies to all companies manufacturing and developing self-driving vehicles.
Companies affected by the rule include Waymo, Zoox, Cruise, and others. The rule is supposed to provide the government and regulators a good idea of just how safe these autopilot systems are for hard commercial use. The rule further states that the crashes must also include “a hospital-treated injury, a fatality, a vehicle tow-away, an airbag deployment, or a vulnerable road user such as a pedestrian or bicyclist”.
Any crashes like these must be reported to the NHTSA within one day of learning about the crash. Companies are also required to report any other crashes that involve injury or property damage but on a monthly basis. Failure to comply means a whopping fine of $22,992 per day.
If the company still fails to comply with the rule, there’s a final penalty of $100 million and the case will be referred to the Justice Department. According to a press release by the NHTSA, it will use the data collected to “help the agency identify potential safety issues and impacts resulting from the operation of advanced technologies on public roads and increase transparency”.