The reliability of autonomous cars will require reviews strict


this was the first Tesla Model S that suffered an accident on semi-automatic (Autopilot). The system did not work properly, and the driver was not pending in the steering wheel when that happened

today, it is not mandatory to pass the revisions that mark the manufacturers of the vehicles, beyond wanting to keep the warranty. No administration is aware of that. We have a legal obligation to pass other inspections, in Spain, ITV, to verify that the vehicles are in acceptable condition for circular.

In an ITV don’t look at when you have changed the oil, nor filters, nor the brake fluid, or shock absorbers, or brake pads. That yes, warned that the mechanical organs are not in a position, for example by not having the brakes powerful enough, or have worn tires, windshield wipers. The rest is, although it sounds surprising, voluntary.

Any person who understands mechanics will know that an elemental maintenance serves for the mechanical parts of the car not to fail. There are pieces that have a useful life determined in time, others in kilometres, and has a lot of influence on the use that is made of the same. The preventive maintenance attempts to prevent the corrective maintenance, that is to fix faults when they have occurred.


Prototype of autonomous car in testing. Right now the sensors are large and showy, but you still get to shrink

In a seminar held in the united States, a couple of experts have made some interesting reflections on the future of road safety in regards to autonomous cars. This is Steven Szakaly, the National Automobile Dealers Association (equivalent to FACONAUTO in Spain) and Mark Rosekind, the NHTSA (equivalent to the DGT).

These experts insist on the need of force the autonomous cars that have a maintenance strict to ensure that all of the sensors and systems work correctly. Do not expect to fail. The sensors are the eyes and ears of autonomous cars, if you do not work properly, go partially blind.

If the maintenance is left in the hands of the customer, it is possible that the recommended intervals are exceeded. We all know examples of drivers that have been past maintenance activities, both in kilometers as in months. The minimum consequence of this is that the manufacturer can be exempted of giving guarantee against a failure. On the opposite, the worst thing that can happen is that you trigger an accident. Talk about accountability is to talk of compensation.


Test-driving autonomous project SARTRE, models Volvo. What would happen if the sensors of one of those cars to fail?

In the world of aviation, the maintenance is a maximum, and this is strictly enforced. By hours of flight, and for years, the planes are checked from top to bottom, desarm├índolos if necessary, piece by piece. There are components that are replaced always, although they look perfect, in order to reduce to a minimum the possibility of failure. that’s why, among other things, flying is so expensive.

Szakaly commented that a conventional car that has a mechanical problem does not poses the same threat to road safety that one is autonomous, because it can be a lot more people involved without their knowledge. Advocates for a standard level of industry for which it is obligatory to spend the maintenance on time and form. This leads us to think in specialised staff, not abundance at the beginning outside of the official services.

Now, in the absence of a legislation more concrete, the liability in case of accident would lie with the owner of the vehicle or the driver. Volvo is the only manufacturer that shall assume legally that responsibility, but, of course, will require to change these cars to be reviewed by your technical staff to maintain that assumption of responsibility. Thinking about it, it seems the most logical.


A security level paranoid, such as the aviation, commercial and military, ensuring the highest levels of security in exchange for a high cost – Photo: Aero Icarus (Flickr) CC BY SA

The more advanced are the safety systems and the technology on board the vehicles, the higher will be the level of preparation of the mechanical and other specialists. Each time is going to be more difficult for an independent garage to have knowledge of repair on such systems, especially if there are no strong standards to industrial level.

, we Could reach a point in which the authorities will require the owners of autonomous cars able to demonstrate that the maintenance is up to date, and an authorized service center. Already happens in the domestic sphere with gas boilers, are checked compulsorily every five years, and automatically. does Not depend on the user to call a technical, another thing are the annual reviews.

The aviation is expensive, and its maintenance is prohibitive, but we just have to get your hands on the statistics of accident rate and check how “dangerous” it is to fly. That will crash an airplane by mechanical failure or human error is almost as unusual as if it is for a terrorist action, or the result of a military operation that is very unfortunate. This is because the possibility of something going wrong has been reduced everything possible, is something unusual, and therefore, noticiable.