Before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration green-lights autonomous cars, it will need to set testing standards, performance standards and safety standards for the new generation of vehicles.
Complicating this is that the NHTSA isn’t exactly on the leading edge of automotive electronics research. The agency’s Dan Smith, associate administrator of vehicle safety, calls the issue a “massive challenge,” citing the need for comprehensive and objective testing to address every instance where failure could occur.
Assuming this can be addressed, given the NHTSA’s limited budget, the next speed bump on the path to self-driving cars will come from the insurance industry. Until it can decide who has liability in an accident (driver, car, component or manufacturer), expect the insurance industry to fight the roll-out of autonomous vehicles.