Pilots, pilots, and more pilots! This is an exciting time in the driverless vehicle world because we’re starting to see Level 3 and 4 automated vehicles being piloted in many different settings around the world (e.g., Japan, Pittsburgh, Singapore, and Dubai). And, what’s even more exciting is that governments are getting involved in a lot of different ways:
- Establishing policies around driverless testing and pilots. Check out Australia’s National Guidelines for Automated Vehicle Trials, which focuses on safety, but also lays out clear expectations for the private industry.
- Providing government funding for driverless pilots. The US Department of Transportation just issued a request for proposals for “automated vehicle technology “proving grounds.”
- Government partnerships with the private sector for driverless pilots. In Ontario, for example, the province, has been seeking out applications for private industry and academic institutions to conduct AV testing. In the United Kingdom, the government awarded a £5.5 million grant to a consortium of partners, which include Bosch, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), Jaguar Land Rover, Direct Line Group, The Floow and the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
No matter the approach, these pilots are critical for ensuring the advancement of the technology. The technology requires thousands of miles of testing in real-world scenarios (not just test facilities!) and people need to see the technology in action to be willing to consider using it. Government agencies are starting to see the potential safety and mobility benefits of the technology more and more, but government also needs to understand (based on real-life experience) how they need to update their infrastructure, what data will be needed and be made available, procurement policy changes, how to handle liability, and how best to manage the transition period. What else should government agencies consider as they implement these pilots?