Mobileye says without safety standards self-driving cars risk being 'a very expensive science experiment'

Key Points
  • Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua says investment in autonomous vehicles "runs the risk of ending up as simply a very expensive science experiment" without safety standards.
  • He recommends there be rules to evaluate who is responsible for collisions between self-driving vehicles and human-driven cars.
  • Autonomous vehicle developers have been speaking out on safety recently.
A still image from a Mobileye video.
Source: Mobileye

Mobileye, the Intel subsidiary that makes cameras and sensors used in autonomous-drive cars, says automakers and tech companies need measurable and provable standards to make self-driving cars as safe as possible.

Without those parameters, Mobileye CEO and co-founder Amnon Shashua says, "all the investment in AVs runs the risk of ending up as simply a very expensive science experiment."

Shashua says automakers and tech companies should have a predetermined set of rules to evaluate and determine who is responsible when self-driving cars collide with human-driven cars.

Mobileye says its technology could use those rules so autonomous-drive vehicles "would not issue a command that would lead to the AV causing an accident."

Ultimately, autonomous-drive vehicles must know two things, according to Mobileye: a "safe state," where there is no risk that the car or truck will cause an accident, and a default emergency policy, which outlines the most aggressive action the vehicle can take to achieve a safe state.

Mobileye's vision of the future of self-driving cars comes as automakers and tech firms are running blog posts or issuing promises about how well their autonomous-drive vehicles are performing in real world traffic.

Two weeks ago, Kyle Vogt, the CEO and founder of General Motors' Cruise Automation, said, "We are making rapid progress toward taking the driver out of the car."

Last week, Waymo, the Google subsidiary developing autonomous vehicles and the technology inside of them, issued its first-ever safety report. In detailing how it ensures its autonomous-drive cars are designed to avoid accidents, Waymo's report included this promise, "Safety is at the core of Waymo's mission."

So why are automakers and tech firms talking so much about how their self-driving technology will keep us safe?

"Safety is one of the most critical elements for winning over consumers," said Michelle Krebs with AutoTrader. "To get people to accept self-driving vehicles, companies will need to convince the public the roadways will be safer."

The focus on safety is a key component behind new federal guidelines for self-driving cars issued in September by the U.S. Department of Transportation.