FCA, Toyota Among Automakers to Share Some Self-Driving Testing Information

CAROUSEL Waymo FCA Self-Driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid OEM.jpg Waymo and FCA self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid | Manufacturer image

Nine companies and eight states have signed up to participate in a government initiative on automated driving systems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Monday. Dubbed the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing (or AV-TEST) Initiative, it aims to make the whereabouts and types of vehicle testing available for consumers to see.

Related: Which Cars Have Self-Driving Features for 2020?

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Companies participating are Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota, Uber, GM’s Cruise, Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo and a handful of other AV-focused firms: Beep, Local Motors, Nayva and Nuro. States involved are California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.

In a statement, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called the initiative a “formal platform for federal, state and local government [organizations] to coordinate and share information in a standard way.”

The news comes after the latest round of federal guidance on automated vehicles established by regulators. It’s a voluntary initiative, something that’s drawn criticism from safety advocates that say NHTSA should instead mandate minimum safety standards for automated vehicles. 

Ahead of the June 15 announcement, the Center for Auto Safety said NHTSA “has once again chosen to show where its true allegiance lies: corporate interests,” adding that the data shared amounts to “table scraps of information about AV testing [that] some, but not all, auto and tech industry participants choose to throw to the federal government.”

In an interview with Reuters, James Owens, the agency’s deputy administrator, reportedly defended the agreement as something that “encourages everybody to up their game to help better ensure that the testing is done in a manner fully consistent with safety,” and that regulators “will not hesitate” if they believe unsafe testing is going on.

NHTSA says the AV-TEST Initiative is “open to all stakeholders” and may include state and local governments, as well as departments of transportation and motor vehicles. The agency said it would hold further information sessions through Thursday.

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