Search Icon White

No Steering Wheel, No Problem: Standards Support the Future of Driverless Cars

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member Google Inc. recently announced that it has begun work on plans to construct 100 self-driving electric cars as part of an ongoing program to support innovative intelligent transport systems (ITS). The new fleet of cars will be built without a steering wheel, gear shift, or gas and brake pedals, and vehicles will be given instructions through a specialized smartphone app. This effort is part of a larger international push to develop and implement new technologies that could revolutionize the automotive and transportation sectors. And as it gets underway, voluntary consensus standards will be on hand to provide essential technical and safety-related guidance.

The new vehicles planned by Google will be remotely piloted by computer. Human passengers will play no role in the operation of each vehicle, other than specifying a destination at the beginning of a journey. Given that, ensuring that the car's piloting system is getting accurate information about the location of the vehicle and best routes to that destination is of the upmost importance. ISO 14825:2011, Intelligent transport systems - Geographic Data Files (GDF) - GDF5.0, provides specifications for the conceptual and logical data model and physical encoding formats for geographic databases used by ITS. This International Standard was developed by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 204, Intelligent Transport Systems. The U.S. holds the secretariat of ISO TC 204, with ANSI member and accredited standards developer the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA) serving as the delegated secretary and associated ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator for the committee. Dick Schnacke of the U.S. serves as the current chair of ISO TC 204.

Driverless cars may be able to operate without direct human interaction, but these vehicles will still lean heavily on well-established automotive technologies, including rubber tires. SAE J 1060-2014 (SAE J1060-2014), Subjective Rating Scale for Evaluation of Noise and Ride Comfort Characteristics Related to Motor Vehicle Tires (Stabilized: May 2014), helps evaluate automotive tires, ensuring a comfortable and quiet ride. The standard was developed by SAE International, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

Just because you won't be driving the driverless car of the future doesn't mean that you can't take pride in its appearance. And to help keep self-driving cars (and their human-driven predecessors) looking great, ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International has developed ASTM D3836-13, Standard Practice for Evaluation of Automotive Polish. This standard sets down testing properties used to evaluate the performance of automotive polishes and waxes, keeping both classic and cutting-edge cars sparkling and bright.

While these proposed vehicles may not need people driving to get where they're going, when they get a flat or need a muffler replaced, human mechanics will still be needed to carry out the necessary repairs. And when a mechanic needs to get under a car or truck to do some work, automotive lifts can provide invaluable assistance. ANSI/ALI ALCTV-2011, Standard for Automotive Lifts - Safety Requirements for Construction, Testing, and Validation, covers power driven, manually driven, stationary, and mobile automotive lifts. The American National Standard was developed by ANSI member and accredited standards developer the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI).

No matter what the car of the future ends up looking like, voluntary standards will have an important role to play, supporting safety and effectiveness in relevant technologies big and small.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]