Call for Increased AV Regulation Heats up
April 29, 2021—A leading auto industry advocacy group is calling upon automakers to outfit their semi-autonomous vehicles with driver monitoring technology and to clarify messaging so as not to mislead consumers.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group that represents most major automakers, announced on Monday new industry driver monitoring principles for vehicles with Level 2 systems.
The Alliance released the principles ahead of a U.S Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday on the future of automotive safety and technology.
Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also introduced legislation Monday that would commission research into driver inattention and the misuse of advanced driver-assistance technology; direct the Department of Transportation to establish performance standards for driver monitoring systems; and require the systems to be installed on all new passenger vehicles.
The announcements come in the wake of the most recent fatal Tesla crash, in which a Model S with no one in the driver’s seat collided with a tree April 17, killing the two vehicle occupants.
“Many vehicles are now equipped with systems similar to Tesla’s that do not adequately ensure that the driver is paying attention,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center, told the publication. “Right now, there are no true self-driving cars on the market, so it is imperative that cars with active driver assistance systems have driver monitoring systems that can tell if the driver is looking at the road.”
In Tuesday’s statement, the Alliance said that there is often confusion among consumers about the capabilities of various driver assistance systems, and emphasized that there is no vehicle on the market today that is a “self-driving” vehicle. Currently, Level 2—which includes driver assistance features like the combination of ACC and steering assistance that still require the driver to pay attention to the road—is the highest level of driving automation available to consumers, yet automakers have branded their technologies as “Autopilot”, to name a topical example.
Along with standard driver monitoring, the Alliance said that there should be escalating auditory and sensory driver warnings and that the vehicle should be able to automatically take corrective action if the driver doesn’t re-engage with the vehicle controls within a set period of time. The Alliance also said that automakers should consider installing an in-vehicle camera as a part of a driver monitoring system, particularly for more advanced driver assistance systems.