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Speeches and Presentations

Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV) Conference

Video Greeting

from Heidi R. King, NHTSA Deputy Administrator

Monday, June 10, 2019 |

Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Good morning and welcome to the 2019 Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles. A warm thank you to our hosts in the Netherlands for hosting this year’s conference.

This conference provides a unique opportunity for researchers across the world to collaborate and share innovative advances in vehicle safety. 

This year’s theme is Technology: Enabling a Safer Tomorrow.  The theme should serve as a reminder for us all about the importance of responsible development and deployment of advanced technologies. 

While many safety technologies are under development, many of us have increased our focus in recent years on the promise of enhancing safety with highly automated driving systems. Most of us know that automated or “self-driving” vehicle technologies are in research and development. Developers around the world are testing components and systems through simulation and modeling, controlled track testing and limited on-road testing with vehicle operators and monitors. In the United States, NHTSA has identified on-road testing and development in 34 States and the District of Columbia. 

Our work as researchers has been complicated by the many reports which enthusiastically exaggerate system capabilities. Never before has the role of researchers been so important to keep the public dialogue grounded in facts, engineering, data and science as we explore the potential capabilities of these exciting innovative ideas, prioritizing safety and responsible testing over hype.

While self-driving vehicles are a future technology concept rather than one that will be sold to the public in the next few years, several companies have announced plans to deploy their vehicles in company owned, operated and maintained ride-sharing or delivery fleets. Still, a variety of technological hurdles must be overcome before these types of vehicles could be available for sale in the United States. 

NHTSA is committed to supporting the innovators who are developing these types of vehicles to ensure their safe testing and deployment before they become available to consumer.

To be considered successful, these technologies should satisfy what I have termed the Four Pillars: It should:

  • Avoid collisions
  • Protect the vehicle’s occupants
  • Obey traffic laws, and
  • Navigate to the destination safely.

These Four Pillars can help guide us and build public trust in these technologies. After all, the life-saving promise of advanced vehicle technologies cannot be realized if the public does not trust and adopt the systems, once they are developed. 

This afternoon’s sessions will focus on the relationship between technology and users – how humans and Automated Driving Systems will interact. I encourage you all to consider the following questions: For whom are we designing? For whom are we building? And are we listening to them? Are we meeting their needs, or are we satisfying our own?  Are we anticipating their behaviors in new situations?

This conference will help all of us address these questions through data, sound science, and engineering. You will have the opportunity to learn from nearly 150 papers and hear directly from their authors in our technical sessions. I hope you will also take some time to visit our student competition booths in the exhibition hall and learn from their research. We can all take inspiration from their hard work, dedication, innovation and creativity.

I would also like to extend my congratulations to all of our U.S. Government Award winners for your contributions to motor vehicle safety. It is an honor to help recognize your work in biomechanics, crashworthiness, connected vehicle technology, and active safety, among other fields.

Thank you again for joining us for this important conference. It is my hope that discussions that start here will continue over the coming weeks, months and years so we can learn from each other – and put safety first.