AV technology must be able to safely interact with people on bikes, on foot - National Association of City Transportation Officials

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Last night, an autonomous vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, AZ. We do not know much yet about this incident—which is believed to be the first time someone walking or biking was killed by a vehicle operating autonomously in the U.S.

NACTO is encouraged that the National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to provide an in-depth, independent assessment of the tragic crash. However, what is already clear is that the current model for real-life testing of autonomous vehicles does not ensure everyone’s safety. While autonomous vehicles need to be tested in real-life situations, testing should be performed transparently, coordinated with local transportation officials, and have robust oversight by trusted authorities.

In order to be compatible with life on city streets, AV technology must be able to safely interact with people on bikes, on foot, or exiting a parked car on the street, in or out of the crosswalk, at any time of day or night. Cities need vehicles to meet a clear minimum standard for safe operations so the full benefits of this new technology are realized on our complex streets. Responsible companies should support a safety standard and call for others to meet one as well.

We cannot afford for companies’ race-to-market to become a race-to-the-bottom for safety.

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