California drivers who are interested in tracking the evolving world of autonomous cars know that one of the big reasons people cite in favor of these vehicles is the alleged safety they may offer. In short, the goal is that a car operated more or all by a computer could be safer than one operated by a human being.
While that is great in theory, Scientific American notes however that identifying if this is possible or true is not quite so easy. This is due in part to the fact that there is no standard definition of what constitutes safety on the road. Additionally, there have been no standardized methods for testing or measuring the safety of autonomous vehicles yet developed. These vehicles are still in the early stages of development and one professional from the RAND Corporation suggests their driving abilities to be on a par with the average teenage driver.
Recode echoes many of the same sentiments. In speaking with lawmakers about how to begin to identify what safety for an autonomous vehicle looks like compared to safety of a human-driven vehicle looks like, the opinions are varied.
One thing that was apparent is that people pushing to get autonomous vehicles on the road do not want a slew of legislation forcing them to use specific technologies. They would instead prefer to see government oversight focus on the end goal which is an improvement in safety. This might be about having fewer accidents or no accidents at all but the wish is for technology and car companies to develop the technologies that support this goal.