Transparency from Self-Driving Car Makers a Major Hurdle

Brian Soublet, deputy director of the California DMV, offered some insight into the challenges of regulating self-driving cars.

California has been pretty progressive when it comes to self-driving cars. Currently there are 10 manufacturers testing robocars in The Golden State, but the process seems to have been anything but smooth.

Brian Soublet, deputy director of the California DMV, offered some insight into the challenges of regulating self-driving cars while speaking at a Volvo event at the Swedish Embassy in Washington. Soublet said the DMV didn’t ask to be in the business of regulating technology, especially self-driving cars, algorithms and lines of code.

“We’re not an agency that is filled by automotive engineers,” Soublet said. “We’re not an agency that is filled with automotive safety experts, and so how do we go about doing that?”

One of the biggest challenges, Soublet said, is getting self-driving car manufacturers to be transparent. They’re fearful competitors might pick up on their secret sauce.

“When I ask that roomful of manufacturer representatives, what’s that point so that we can maybe use that to co-opt into our regulations, well, it’s a trade secret,” Soublet said. “We can’t tell you, our competitors will know. We don’t want the public to know. So we have to get to the point where for the public to be satisfied - they’re looking to us - so [manufacturers are] going to have to be open to us.”

Speaking of transparency, the California DMV also just released the reports for a full year’s worth of self-driving car accidents. Google has been transparent with its self-driving car accidents, saying its technology has never caused one, and that most of the time its self-driving cars were rear-ended while they weren’t moving.

Could this mean Apple and others will need to be upfront about their self-driving car projects as well? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.


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