U.S. states have a variety of regulations governing self-driving testing and data disclosure, and there is currently no centralized listing of all automated vehicle testing.
California, for example, requires public disclosure of all crashes involving self-driving vehicles, while other states do not.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is unveiling the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing (AV TEST) initiative to provide “an online, public-facing platform for sharing automated driving system on-road testing activities.”
With many opinion polls showing deep skepticism about self-driving cars in the U.S., the effort aims to boost public awareness. NHTSA plans “online mapping tools” that will eventually show testing locations and activity data.
NHTSA deputy administrator James Owens said in an interview that providing better transparency “encourages everybody to up their game to help better ensure that the testing is done in a manner fully consistent with safety.”
Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Uber, Alphabet’s self-driving company Waymo, and Cruise — General Motors’ majority-owned self-driving subsidiary — are expected to take part. Participating states include California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas, officials said.
NHTSA’s goal is to “pull together really critical stakeholders to deepen the lines of communication and cooperation among all of us,” Owens said, adding the effort was “an opportunity for the states to start sharing information among themselves.”
NHTSA will hold events this week to kick off the initiative, including panels featuring companies involved in autonomous vehicle testing, such as Nuro, Beep, Waymo, Uber, and Toyota.
Critics say NHTSA should mandate federal safety standards for automated driving systems.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in its investigation of the March 2018 death of a pedestrian in a crash with an Uber test vehicle — the first attributed to a self-driving car — said in November that NHTSA should make self-driving vehicle safety assessments mandatory and ensure automated vehicles have appropriate safeguards.
Owens said NHTSA “will not hesitate” to take action if it believes unsafe vehicles are being tested on U.S. roads, but it has not adopted NTSB’s recommendations.