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Key takeaways – Q&A with Mark Rosekind, NHTSA

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind discusses autonomous cars, recalls and cyber security with Martin Kahl

Ahead of his keynote speech at Autonomous Car Detroit – which in fact turned into an impromptu town hall meeting with various industry representatives – Mark Rosekind, Administrator of the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), gave an exclusive interview with Automotive World.

Read the highlights below:

What are the implications for autonomous cars when they crash?

There will be a crash and someone is going to get hurt or killed, and they’re going to call NHTSA first.

You’re not going to get perfection. The technology that’s coming is not straightforward, but that’s not going to be the limiting step here, this is about whether humans will trust these [vehicles].

Is a slightly imperfect vehicle – that could still save lives – better than waiting for a perfect car?

We’re really concerned that we’re looking at a 10% increase in fatalities for 2015. If technology offers an opportunity to save some of those lives, we have to do that. 32,675 lives were lost in 2014 – we’re trying to make that zero, so we need a higher level of safety. However, the reality is we are far from perfection now.

Mark Rosekind, Administrator of the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, speaking at Autonomous Car Detroit

How do you plan to balance current state-by-state legislation with something national?

People love to talk about writing regulation but we have highlighted for some time that this is about being nimble and flexible. The technology is changing so quickly that regulation is outdated before it’s even published.

What is your take on rising recalls in recent years?  

If you start identifying problems earlier we have more recalls, but the absolute number of vehicles involved will go down. Ironically, I take it as a good sign that recalls have gone up. It means vehicle manufacturers are really more focused on safety.

Is insufficient cyber security a present danger for connected cars?

Absolutely! And we’re looking for more to be done. The concern is they’re just so accessible. Work has been done in aerospace, nuclear and the military. Don’t reinvent the wheel – figure out how it’s been done and let’s just take care of it now. The difference is making sure that the automotive industry acknowledges this as a safety/security arena that needs to take the same level of precaution and action.

Click here to read the full interview:

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