GM, Ford, and Toyota Team Up to Advance Self-driving Standards

Three major automakers and SAE formed a consortium to draw up safety and test guidelines for Level 4 and 5 automated systems.

By Murray Slovick, Contributing Editor

General Motors, Ford, and Toyota are joining automotive engineering group SAE International to establish safety and testing principles focused on the safe deployment of SAE Level 4 and Level 5 automated driving systems. The new group will be called the Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium (AVSC).

The three automakers, all currently actively involved in on-road autonomous-vehicle pilot programs, will work on safety principles leading to standards and regulations in the United States. They will also set guidelines for interaction with other road users, safe testing, and pre-competitive development and deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs).

AVSC’s first effort will be a roadmap of priorities —a framework that focuses on the safe deployment of AVs. The roadmap will focus on:

  • Testing prior to and when operating AVs on public roads
  • Data collection, protection, and sharing required to reconstruct certain events
  • Interactions between AVs and other road users

“Being able to advance the safe deployment of SAE Level 4 and Level 5 automated vehicles represents another exciting chapter in the realization of autonomous mobility and the benefits this will bring to people around the world,” said Edward Straub, director of automation for SAE and executive director of the new consortium. “To achieve these benefits, industry collaboration, cohesion, and flexibility to merge new ideas with proven safety processes are critical. This is why we are forming the AVSC and announcing our roadmap strategy.”

In a statement issued by SAE, the automakers said the roadmap is intended to be broadly applicable to all developers, manufacturers, and integrators of autonomous technologies for use in product deployment. “Together,” the statement read, “our work will inform and accelerate industry-wide safety standards for automated driving systems, so we may earn the trust of local communities as pilots and deployments become more widespread.”

“Safety is at the center of everything we do at General Motors, and that’s certainly the case with our development of self-driving technology,” said John Capp, director of Global Vehicle Safety at GM.  “We are eager to bring our experience to this consortium and to collaborate with other like-minded companies, so we can realize the true benefits of this technology and work toward a future with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”

Similarly, Kelly Kay, Toyota Research Institute EVP and chief safety officer pointed out that industry collaboration in areas that act as a foundation of automated driving systems and vehicles “is a significant step for us to achieve safe deployment of autonomous vehicles. The formation of this consortium creates a forum to collaborate and cooperate with various stakeholders who will play important roles in forming and synthesizing the automated vehicle eco-system of tomorrow.”

“Our goal with the consortium is to work with industry and government partners to expedite development of standards that can lead to rule making,” added Randy Visintainer, chief technology officer at Ford Autonomous Vehicles.

Others groups are working to develop safety guidelines of their own. Last year Intel’s Mobileye announced a framework that included detailed situations that driverless cars need to be able to handle. Last month, NVIDIA announced its own safety framework (which Mobileye quickly characterized as a copycat effort).

AVSC’s Straub said other automakers and technology companies would be welcome to join the consortium, provided they have experience with testing fully autonomous cars.

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