Self-driving cars need a common language to talk about safety, or they will fail

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the need for a “common language” when it comes to self-driving cars. Ford recently came out in favor of standardized visual cues that autonomous vehicles could use to communicate intent to pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers. Meanwhile, critics continue to assail the five levels of automation as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the global standard for self-driving, for being overly broad and possibly dangerous. Most experts agree: we need a better, more unified way to talk about self-driving cars.

Today, the RAND Corporation unveiled its own well-researched attempt to introduce a common language for autonomous vehicles. Titled “Measuring Automated Vehicle Safety: Forging a…

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