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“How safe is safe enough?”: This is one of the most essential and still unanswered questions around autonomous vehicles which was discussed on the 6th February at the Stanford Research Park Speaker Series “Testing & Simulation of Autonomous Vehicles”. The panel discussion was led by Dr. Sven Beiker, lecturer at the Stanford GSB and Managing Director at Silicon Valley Mobility and took place at Ford Motor Company in Palo Alto, California, US.
Alexander Kraus, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Automotive at TÜV SÜD joined the discussion as panelist together with John Tintinalli, Director of Innovation at SAE International, Georg List, Vice President Corporate Strategy at AVL, Robert Seidl, Managing Director at Motus Ventures and Thomas Bock, Director Vehicle Integration & Testing at Samsung Smart Machines.
As the industry prepares for the deployment of self-driving cars, there appears to be only one way to ensure safety: to test the cars again and again through each possible situation those vehicles might face during operation. This is done partly through testing on public roads, but to maximize safety and accuracy, closed course testing is also very important. And still, as it is understood that hundreds of millions of miles would need to be driven in order to prove the safety of autonomous vehicles, the simulation of scenarios in the virtual world has also become essential. The panel discussion dived into these topics to discuss how the real and virtual world need to be balanced for safety, efficacy, and efficiency in testing and how important fidelity of simulation models is in order to draw conclusions from the virtual to the real world.
During the discussion various aspects which make the safe deployment of autonomous cars challenging have been addressed in more detail, like environmental challenges, safety and security challenges, regulatory challenges or technical challenges. The need for simulation in combination to real-world testing has been evaluated and the aspects which are needed to ensure its consistency and alignment to real world conditions. Undoubtedly, there are various advantages simulations have compared to real world testing like reproducibility, repeatability and the scalability of tests which are executed. But it is also clear for the participants that there will always be a need for physical testing to ensure the overall safety of autonomous vehicles.
Nevertheless, there is still no type approval possible for autonomous vehicles but international committees have set the objectives to develop requirements and test methods for these new systems and functions in order to create globally harmonised and accepted regulatory requirements for autonomous mobility solutions. The International Alliance for Mobility Testing and Standardization (IAMTS), of which TÜV SÜD is a charter member, also strives to harmonise testing procedures to develop globally harmonised standards. TÜV SÜD is also developing an AV Permit for prototype approvals, which is a big step forward in establishing a holistic approach for the assessment of AVs operational safety, that includes functional safety, cybersecurity and vehicle safety.
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