GENEVA — A new focus group of the International Telecommunications Union, or ITU, today said it will work on establishing international standards to monitor and assess the performance of the artificial intelligence “drivers” of autonomous vehicles.
The ITU Focus Group on AI for Autonomous and Assisted Driving is open to all interested parties. The ITU is the United Nations agency for information and communication technologies, responsible for allocating global radio spectrum and satellite orbits.
ITU focus groups accelerate ITU studies in fields of growing strategic relevance to ITU membership. They establish a basis for related international standardization work in ITU study groups. The ITU Focus Group on AI for Autonomous and Assisted Driving will report to ITU-T Study Group 16 on Multimedia.
Building safety and public trust
Building public trust in automated vehicles will be the prerequisite to their success in reducing the 1.3 million deaths on roads each year. The ITU said its focus group’s primary objective is to validate that the driving behavior of automated vehicles presents evidence to justify this public trust.
The focus group said its goals are to meet public expectations that:
- AI never engages in careless, dangerous or reckless driving
- AI remains aware, willing and able to avoid collisions at all times
- AI meets or exceeds the performance of a competent, careful human driver
“Connectivity and automation show great promise to improve road safety,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “This Focus Group is a welcome initiative to ensure that assisted and autonomous driving technologies exhibit the behavior required to fulfill this promise.”
A Turing Test for automobiles
“Standards support new partnerships,” said Chaesub Lee, director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. “This focus group builds on over a decade of ITU work to ensure that the convergence of the ICT and automotive industries is rooted in mutual trust and understanding.”
“Should there be an equivalent of a Turing Test for AI on our roads? Absolutely,” said Bryn Balcombe, the focus group’s chairman and founder of the Autonomous Drivers Alliance (ADA). “Especially when all drivers, human or AI, need a shared understanding to predict both behaviors and risks.”
The motivations for the project were first elaborated at the third edition of the AI for Good Global Summit in May, where discussions led by ADA highlighted the public expectation that AI Drivers should be held to the same legal standards as human drivers.
The original Turing Test is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.
The proposed Turing Test for the road could become the basis for an International Driving Permit for AI. The right hold to this permit would be assessed continuously, based on the AI Driver’s behavioral performance on the road.
The focus group said it will contribute to ITU’s development of technical standards in support of the UNECE Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety (WP.1) and in accordance with the 1949 and 1968 United Nations Conventions on Road Traffic.