The Smart Center will feature roads and structures intended to replicate the high-speed intersections, rural roads and urban areas normally encountered by drivers. Officials say the project will give researchers and vehicle developers access to the types of driving variables autonomous cars will face in real-life driving situations.
Based on the results, researchers propose that self-driving-vehicle risks are distinguished by three criteria: unacceptable, tolerable and broadly acceptable. Autonomous vehicles that are less safe than human-driven ones are unacceptable. Tolerable ones are 4-5 times as safe, reducing traffic fatalities by 75 to 80 percent. Broadly acceptable ones are classified as "two orders of magnitude lower than current global traffic risk, indicating a hundredfold improvement over current traffic risks, or the same order of magnitude experienced in public transportation modes, such as rail and commercial aviation."
Few details about the company's interest have been made public. On Thursday, the Dearborn-based automaker began moving about 200 members of its electric and autonomous vehicle business teams into a refurbished former factory a few blocks from the train station. The move allows the automaker to strengthen its development of self-driving vehicles. It could use the train station for a similar purpose, as it's unlikely to use it for manufacturing.
The NTSB report comes a day after Uber pulled its self-driving cars out of Arizona, eliminating the jobs of about 300 people who served as backup drivers and performed other jobs connected to the vehicles. Uber had suspended testing of its self-driving vehicles in Arizona, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto while regulators investigated the cause of the March 18 crash.
"We have initiated a top-to-bottom safety review of our self-driving vehicles program, and we have brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture," Uber said Monday. "Our review is looking at everything from the safety of our system to our training processes for vehicle operators, and we hope to have more to say soon."
A consumer group, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, says a bill on self-driving cars now stalled in the U.S. Senate is an opportunity to improve safety, quite different from the bill's original intent to quickly allow testing of self-driving cars without human controls on public roads. The group has proposed amending the bill, the AV START Act, to set standards for those vehicles, for instance, requiring a "vision test" for automated vehicles to test what their different sensors actually see.