An Approach for Managing the Risks of Autonomous Cars

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.

1 minute read

February 4, 2024, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Overhead view of white Waymo self-driving car in San Francisco, California with shared bikes and scooters visible on adjacent sidewalk.

A Waymo self-driving taxi in San Francisco, California. | Olga / Adobe Stock

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.

Friday, February 2, 2024 in Governing

Rendering of electric scooters, electric cars, light rail train, and apartments in background.

Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape

Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.

February 14, 2024 - The Cool Down

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

"It's The Climate" sign over street in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Oregon Town Seeks Funding for Ambitious Resilience Plan

Like other rural communities, Grants Pass is eager to access federal funding aimed at sustainability initiatives, but faces challenges when it comes to meeting grant requirements.

February 18, 2024 - The Daily Yonder

Close-up of bottom half of stroller being pushed onto sidewalk with no curb cut by person in jeans and brown shoes.

How Infrastructure Communicates Values

The presence and quality of sidewalks, curb cuts, and other basic elements of infrastructure can speak to much more than just economic decisions.

50 minutes ago - Strong Towns

Greyhound and Amtrak buses at a temporary bus terminal in San Francisco, California.

Despite High Ridership, Intercity Bus Lines Are Eliminating Stations

Riders on the ‘forgotten stepchild’ of the U.S. transportation system find themselves waiting for buses curbside as Greyhound sells off its real estate in many U.S. cities.

1 hour ago - Governing

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo Residents Push Back on Proposed Cap Park

State and local officials say the $1 billion project will heal neighborhoods divided by the Kensington Expressway, but community members say the proposed plan will exacerbate already poor air quality in the area.

2 hours ago - Bloomberg CityLab

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

The Walkable City

Harvard GSD Executive Education

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.