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Report sets out data ethics for self-driving vehicles

31/08/22

Mark Say Managing Editor

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Autonomous cars on street
Image source: istock.com/gorodenkoff

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) has recommended a number of steps to build public trust in the use of connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs), including the relevant measures for data sharing and privacy.

It has published a report, Responsible Innovation in Self-Driving Vehicles, to support the work of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, the joint policy unit for the relevant issues with the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The unit is responsible for the development of legislation and regulatory frameworks relevant to CAVs.

Among the report’s recommendations is that the disclosure of safety-relevant data should be standardised for bodies such as software designers and vehicle manufacturers, and that they should share the data using agreed formats with other bodies in their ecosystem when requested.

Another is that a regulator should issue guidance on how data protection obligations apply to CAVs, and operators should ensure that these are applied by design and default throughout the development process. An example of this would be in anonymising facial image data captured a video of a vehicle’s surroundings at the point it is collected and before further processing.

Efforts for trust

Further efforts to build public trust should include engagement with local authorities and communities when a vehicle trial is planned in an area, and that CAVs should be clearly labelled.

Other recommendations cover: the development of road safety rules for the vehicles; the collection of data on fairness and safety outcomes by the regulator; and the setting up of a joint committee on CAV ethics and safety.

In an accompanying blogpost, the CDEI said it is also exploring the potential for pilot projects to demonstrate different approaches to algorithmic explainability in the domain.

“Self-driving vehicles have the potential to radically transform the UK’s roads,” it said.

“But to enable their benefits and achieve the government’s ambition to ‘make the UK the best place in the world to deploy connected and automated vehicles’, developers and manufacturers need clarity about the regulatory landscape they are operating in, and the general public needs to have confidence in the safety, fairness and trustworthiness of these vehicles.”

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