Since the first fatal crash in the United States in 2016 that involved a vehicle operating in automation mode at the time of the collision, the NTSB has investigated numerous crashes of vehicles equipped with various automation capabilities. This page serves as a collection of our investigations, lessons learned from the investigative outcomes, and a resource for various material characterizing our position regarding vehicle automation and related topics.
Vehicle Automation Today: Basics
The topic of automated vehicles has dominated conversations about ground transportation in recent years. Commonly, the term self-driving is used to describe vehicles coming soon to dealerships near you, or even to market some vehicles traveling on our roadways today. In reality, there are no self-driving vehicles on our roadways today available for consumer purchase.
While automated vehicles bring a promise of being safer than a car driven by a human driver, the AV industry has not yet solved the challenges of full vehicle automation. As such, there are no self-driving vehicles on our roadways today.
Available for Consumers Now:
Many new passenger vehicles available for purchase today are equipped with collision avoidance systems, such as forward collision warning. Some vehicles have additional capabilities that assist drivers by adapting speed or maintaining lane position; two capabilities that when combined are referred to as partial vehicle automation. All of these systems are designed to assist drivers in controlling the vehicle or in detecting and avoiding a hazard. Because these systems have considerable limitations, they are designed with an assumption of continuous driver engagement.There are no vehicles available for purchase today that allow drivers to disengage from the driving task.
Testing and Deployment
Dozens of technology-based companies and traditional vehicle manufacturers are conducting testing of fully automated vehicles. In addition to test tracks and virtual environments, testing of these developmental vehicles also occurs on public roads. This testing is usually conducted with a safety driver who is tasked with taking control of the vehicle in critical situations; some companies also transport passengers in these vehicles. Recently, some companies have started testing without a safety driver in the vehicle. Because the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration—the regulatory agency responsible for ensuring vehicle safety—has not established performance measures and testing standards for automated vehicles, individual manufacturers create their testing requirements. This creates an inconsistent level of testing on our roadways, that is not verified, and potentially hazardous.