As ‘robotaxis’ and other autonomous vehicles make their way onto American streets, cities can take proactive steps to mitigate risks and balance the benefits and challenges of new technology.
In an opinion piece in Governing, Hye Min Park and Fabian E. Villalobos describe a decision-making process utilized in industries such as water and energy that could simplify the complex process of regulating autonomous vehicles. “How can the sometimes-conflicting interests of all stakeholders be considered and balanced?”
The process, known as “decision-making under deep uncertainty” or DMDU, “focuses on actions that can be agreed upon, even if multiple stakeholders agree on little else. For instance, instead of speculating about what does or doesn’t make robotaxis unsafe, DMDU could help regulators and AV companies figure out which warning signs to monitor.” Other methods include measuring proxies for risk when better data is not available, such as “how rapidly the technology is adopted, whether an agency has the ability to manage the risk, or the size of the potentially affected population.”
According to the authors, “Cities and regulatory agencies can often feel that they’re left as bystanders when new technology is rolled out, yet they are responsible for the safety of whatever private entities develop and deploy.” This approach can help them proactively assess and mitigate risks as new technologies are introduced.
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