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In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

Long Ideas

Auto Industry Developing Standards for Self-Driving Cars

 The auto industry has taken an important step forward in the effort to make self-driving cars a part of our lives. An industry trade group called the Auto Alliance or the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers is developing an Information Sharing and Analysis System for autonomous cars.

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The group has also set up an Information Sharing and Analysis Center that will develop standards, cyber protections and risk management tools for robotic vehicles. One of the major goals is to protect vehicles from hackers and cyberattacks, The Washington Post reported. The Center is supposed to begin operation this year, and it will work with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton to develop the system.

One reason for this system is to make it easier to insure self-driving vehicles. Such standards will be vital if insurers are to develop policies for autonomous vehicles.


The Alliance consists of all the major automakers operating in the United States except Honda and Nissan. Its current members include Ford, General Motors, Fiat-Chrysler-Jeep, Jaguar-Land Rover, Mercedes Benz USA, Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW, Porsche, Volvo, Mitsubishi and Mazda.

Interestingly enough, upstart Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA), which is now offering an autopilot feature on its vehicles, is not participating in the alliance, although it may join. The autopilot feature is now available on Tesla’s Model S. Also noticeably absent is Google, which has attracted the most attention with its self-driving vehicles.

Self-Driving Vehicles Will Empty Local Government Coffers

American taxpayers could take a big hit from self-driving cars, the Brookings Institution reported. The think tank is predicting that the widespread use of such vehicles will greatly reduce traffic infractions and the fines they generate, which are a major source of revenue for local governments in the United States.

Many municipalities and counties rely heavily upon such finance to pay for basic government sources. That means such entities will be forced to raise taxes to make up the difference. If that was not bad enough, the popularity of such vehicles could reduce the car ownership rate. That means less money from sales taxes on vehicles and vehicle registration fees, which are a major source of revenue for some states, such as Colorado.

One has to wonder how government will react. A possible solution might be a per mile driving fee or higher registration fees. A better solution might be a sales tax on Uber fare and car-rental fees. If Uber really is generating $50 billion in revenue, government will certainly demand and get a piece of it.

It looks like self-driving cars are almost here, and they’re about to change our world in ways we have not yet begun to imagine.