The World Economic Forum (WEF) has stated that AV development has revealed a governance gap, as a result of policymakers struggling to understand and keep pace with the emerging technology field. To address this, it has released a multi-disciplinary paper, Safe Drive Initiative: Creating safe autonomous vehicle policy, which it says identifies the tensions around understanding the safety of AVs and suggests potential solutions.
The organization states that optimal AV safety assessment will benefit from a multi-stakeholder approach convening regulators, AV developers, safety experts and members of the public to ensure that a system is safe to use on public roads. It recognizes that exact processes will vary across jurisdictions due to geographic, political and legislative differences, but harmonizing approaches will accelerate the development and deployment of AV technology around the world.
The review is the first in a series of documents the WEF intends to publish, in the hope of offering holistic guidance on AV policy. By engaging with industry partners, regulators, academia and civil society, the Safe Drive Initiative proposes a broad and actionable framework to enable policymakers to create a graduated series of milestones.
The initiative seeks to establish a high-level framework to enable regulators and AV developers to work collaboratively to demonstrate an AV system’s capability to operate without intervention from a driver. To this end it proposes a data-driven, scenario-based assessment using a graduated approach to safety assurance. The framework’s approach is vehicle and solution-agnostic and builds upon existing national and international standards, where possible.
The approach focuses on assessing an AV in the context of its deployment operational design domain (ODD) by demonstrating behavior competence in a range of scenarios including using simulation, driving in controlled environments and naturalistic on-road driving for evaluation. This can then be adopted by a regulator or government entities, which are responsible for managing AV development and deployment.
The report highlights numerous points of testing that all bodies should follow, including:
- Prepare – Convene necessary stakeholders to identify interim milestones as a function of the deployment ODD which can be defined using standard taxonomies e.g. BSI PAS 1883;
- Define – Specify qualitative scenarios for the interim milestones as behavior competencies in each ODD sub-set;
- Measure – Using a scenario database, select scenarios based on ODD for simulation and corresponding success criteria; and
- Execute – Conduct on-road tests and perform ongoing monitoring to evaluate scenario exposure to refine evaluation.
The paper states that a graduated approach enables defining interim milestones as a function of deployment ODD. After completing all steps of the assessment, regulators should have a clear idea of which AV developers are ready to operate commercially in the deployment operational design domain.
Ideally, notes the paper, the AV developer should demonstrate the vehicle’s capability to operate without a safety driver, but this depends on back-up on mechanisms such as minimal risk maneuvers and remote operators to take control should they meet a rare situation it is not designed to handle, for example if an emergency vehicle is approaching.