Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) are suggesting that self-driving vehicles should be required to pass a licensing test.
Most driver-licensing tests evaluate three aspects of driving readiness, they observed: visual performance; knowledge of rules and regulations related to driving and traffic in general; and driving-related psychomotor skills. The reasons for the need to test prospective drivers are that:
- Vision is essential for driving;
- Driving and traffic laws and regulations need to be learned and followed;
- Driving-related skills need to be acquired through practice; and
- People differ in performance for all of the above aspects.
In a new UMTRI white paper, they suggest a number arguments in support of their proposal for testing autonomous vehicle as well:
- Sensing hardware, spatial maps, and software algorithms will vary among manufacturers of self-driving vehicles, resulting in variability of on-road performance—as is the case with humans.
- Visual and sensing performance of self-driving vehicles in inclement weather is not yet sufficient.
- Visual-pattern recognition is a potential problem for current sensing systems in self-driving vehicles.
- Current self-driving vehicles have not yet been tested thoroughly under a variety of demanding conditions (e.g., in snow).
- On-road performance of some current self-driving vehicles is not yet perfect, even in good weather.
- Self-driving vehicles will face, on rare occasions, ethical dilemmas in their decision-making.
Read the study’s abstract: Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle (2015) “Should We Require Licensing Tests and Graduated Licensing for Self-Driving Vehicles?” UMTRI-2015-33.