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RAND, USC experts on why test-driving autonomous vehicles for safety may not be enough




A self-driving car traverses a parking lot at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California on January 8, 2016.
A self-driving car traverses a parking lot at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California on January 8, 2016.
NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images

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The movement towards driverless cars is already in full swing in California as companies like Google and Tesla, to name a few, are at the forefront of the new technology.

But a new study out from the RAND Corporation says that the amount of miles it would take testing driverless vehicle technology would need to be in the millions and, in some cases, billions, in order to create enough data to demonstrate safety.

The report suggests that it’s designed not to ask whether it’s logical to test-drive autonomous vehicles in real-time traffic conditions in order to assess safety, but rather how practical it is. It also seeks to answer exactly how many miles a driverless car would need to be test-driven without failure to prove its safety.

It goes on to say that manufacturers and engineers will need to come up with alternative ways of testing that will better demonstrate reliability, and that laws and regulations for driverless cars must be designed to adapt as the technology changes so that risks can be recognized and mitigated. All that said, experts also say it’s important to remember that there are risks and uncertainty associated with any new technology.

Driving to Safety: How Many Miles of Driving Would It Take to Demonstrate Autonomous Vehicle Reliability

Guests:

Nidhi Kalra, senior information scientist and co-director of the Center for Decision Making under Uncertainty at RAND Corporation; she is a co-author of the report “Driving to Safety: How Many Miles of Driving Would It Take to Demonstrate Autonomous Vehicle Reliability?”

Jeffrey Miller, associate professor of engineering practice at the University of Southern California