ODD collaboration needed for autonomous-vehicle safety
The creation of an operational design domain (ODD) will be an essential component to the widespread adoption and deployment of self-driving vehicles.
ODDs–a term that defines all conceivable overlapping conditions, use cases, restrictions and scenarios that an AV might encounter–help with the development of autonomous vehicles, because they define where autonomous vehicles can function based on current capabilities. Defined areas of operation allow for deliberate refinement before AV systems “graduate” to more challenging ODDs. Of course, ODDs can expand as the technology evolves, allowing for safe and predictable operation in appropriate areas on the path to full autonomy.
“ODD standards are extremely important because they explicitly describe the environment in which a specific autonomous vehicle level is designed to operate in,” explained AAA automotive technical engineer Matthew Lum. “This provides a specific framework which guides development and unambiguously defines the operating capabilities of a specific system.
He said these standards must be collaboratively defined by AV designers, technology companies involved in AV and infrastructure development, regulatory policymakers, and safety/advocacy organizations. Adding that specific automaker tribalism should be kept to a minimum. “Current and future states of the technology should be considered, as well as specific challenges inherent to specific ODDs, such as densely populated environments with a high concentration of vulnerable road users and so on,” Lum pointed out.
Dr Phil Koopman, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and the principal technical author of the UL 4600 Standard for Safety for the Evaluation of Autonomous Products, explained the “one true set” of ODD definitions for all purposes is a long way away. “The thing about ODDs is a useful description is in the eye of the beholder, because different stakeholders are worried about different elements,” he said. “Regulators and city officials care about things like snow but they don’t know if the car cares if it’s snowing or not.”
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