Bryant Walker Smith's blog

SAE Levels of Driving Automation

SAE International's On-Road Automated Vehicle Standards Committee, on which I serve along with experts from industry and government, will soon release an information report defining key concepts related to the increasing automation of on-road vehicles. Central to this 12-page report are six levels of driving automation: 0 (no automation), 1 (driver assistance), 2 (partial automation), 3 (conditional automation), 4 (high automation), and 5 (full automation). Read more » about SAE Levels of Driving Automation

The Impact of Automation on Environmental Impact Statements

Cross-posted from Volokh Conspiracy.

Since the 1950s, the Long Beach Freeway has linked the massive Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to, roughly, the rest of the continental United States. Because much has changed in trade and traffic since then, California’s relevant transportation authorities have decided that perhaps this freeway should change as well. Read more » about The Impact of Automation on Environmental Impact Statements

Stanford Students: Fall 2012 Course on the Law of Autonomous Driving

A century later, driverless cars and trucks have the potential to revolutionize society as much as the horseless carriages that preceded them. This emerging technology raises important questions -- about legality and liability, privacy and security, even intellectual property and land use -- that demand thoughtful analysis from a variety of perspectives. For these reasons, I am excited to be teaching an inaugural seminar on the legal aspects of autonomous driving. This Fall 2012 course is open to Stanford University students who want to meaningfully advance that analysis. Law students should preregister by this Friday, July 13th, 2012; others should follow these steps. Read more » about Stanford Students: Fall 2012 Course on the Law of Autonomous Driving

Planning for Autonomous Driving

In the United States over the next ten years, governments may spend some $1.5 trillion on their roadways, consumers may purchase vehicles worth nearly $3 trillion, property owners may develop millions of acres of rural land, and the US Postal Service may drive its cars and trucks approximately 12 billion miles (with FedEx alone adding 10 billion miles more). How might these massive numbers—and others like them—be harnessed to smooth the deployment of self-driving vehicle technologies? Read more » about Planning for Autonomous Driving

On Blind Drivers and Base Maps

Google has posted an inspiring video (with audio captions) of a legally blind individual riding in the front left seat of one of its self-driving cars as that car travels along a “carefully programmed route.” As the company prudently notes, the video is “a promising look at what autonomous technology may one day deliver if rigorous technology and safety standards can be met.” Both Google and a local police officer who assisted with the demo believe it to be legal. Read more » about On Blind Drivers and Base Maps

Driving at Perfection

• “Nothing is going to catch this car by surprise…. It’s going to see hundreds of feet in all directions. [You’re] not going to have a pedestrian ‘come out of nowhere’ or the ball coming to the middle of the street. This car senses a lot.”
• “Our cars are designed to avoid the kinds of situations that force people to make last-minute value judgments while driving.”
• “[Our car] always does the right thing.” Read more » about Driving at Perfection


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