Rosekind implies self-driving Tesla death won’t derail mission

rosekindNHTSA’s administrator Mark Rosekind in a speech at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco implied the death of Joshua Brown is a data point to analyze and learn from. He said that the organization wasn’t going to wait until self-driving technology technology is perfect because it could save lives. Here are excerpts from his speech in which he states that NHTSA will lay a framework and not issue 16,000 pages of regulations. Meanwhile, consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog drove around the hotel in a white truck protesting the death of Joshua Brown in a Tesla S running autopilot. Previously, Rosekind stated that new technologies should be twice as safe as those they replace.

…I can tell you that no one incident will derail the Department of Transportation and NHTSA from its mission to improve safety on the roads by pursuing new lifesaving technologies,when something goes wrong, or a highly automated vehicle encounters an edge case – something it hasn’t been programmed to deal with – that data can be taken, analyzed, and then the lessons can be shared with more than the rest of that vehicle fleet…

We lost 35,200 lives on our roads last year. We are in a bad place. This is a bad situation, and we should be desperate for new tools that will help us save lives. If we wait for perfect, we’ll be waiting for a very, very long time. How many lives might we be losing while we wait? Ones that could otherwise be saved by a thoughtful but determined approach to bring lifesaving technologies to the road…

The federal government is not here to pick the winners and losers of this technology

We are neutral on the question of incremental technological development versus skipping to full automation. Our mission is not to design the future, but instead lay the framework, a framework that will speed the development and deployment of technologies with significant lifesaving potential. We are open to anything that fulfills that mission.

Let me be clear: Strong safety regulations absolutely will continue to be an important part of NHTSA’s safety mission, and there will, without question, be regulations on highly automated vehicles in the future.

But those expecting DOT and NHTSA to issue 16,000 pages of regulations in the coming weeks will be disappointed, or perhaps more likely, relieved.

Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D., was sworn in as the 15th Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on December 22, 2014. He was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.