TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan -- Adopting standardized safety regulations will help automakers reduce the cost and complexity of self-driving vehicles, not to mention enable consumers to understand how the features work, Mircea Gradu, senior vice president of Velodyne Lidar, said at the 2019 CAR Management Briefing Seminars on Tuesday.
He suggested the auto industry follow the example of aerospace companies and forgo the competitive approach to safety, and instead work together on a single set of rules. The rules would be shaped by collaboration between government regulators and engineering organizations, such as the U.S.-based SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers). Gradu also is chairman of SAE.
Having one global standard would allow suppliers and automakers to cut development cost and product complexity. For example, some countries require a driver's hands to always be on the steering wheel in a vehicle that can steer itself, while other countries do not, he pointed out.
Gradu's company makes one of the key components of self-driving vehicles. Lidar uses light waves from lasers to "see" around a vehicle and create 3D models and maps of objects, which are then recognized by computers that help the vehicle drive safely.
"We are trying to provide early and very deep insight into that process, and that will benefit the entire industry," Gradu said. He cited General Motors' Super Cruise driver assist system, available in the Cadillac CT6 sedan, as an example of a suite of self-driving technologies that is well designed.
"GM's Super Cruise has done a good job. There is a lot of safety embedded in that system and that is the right thing to do," he said. But because there are few standards for the technology all automakers follow, Tesla's Auto Pilot system, for example, works differently.
Gradu said the industry runs the risk of confusing consumers with each automaker producing a different system with different terms to describe and explain features.
"Safety cannot be compromised," he added.