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A family of crash test dummies at Ford's Dearborn Development Center. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Because current safety tests are outdated, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is preparing to update its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) to incorporate newer features, including some that will be in autonomous vehicles, into the safety rating program.

Why it matters: The U.S. is a global leader in AV innovation, home to 163 AV-related companies. But a flourishing market requires rigorous and consistent safety testing of all new technology, and NCAP updates will play a crucial role.

Background: Current NCAP tests have yet to catch up to what's on the market today, much less what's coming as AV technology advances.

  • Many widely available automated features, such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, aren't addressed.
  • Crash test dummies developed in the 1980s are used in the tests, but they don't have as many sensors as today's models.
  • Common scenarios — like small-overlap crashes, which involve roughly one quarter of the vehicle — are omitted.
  • They also largely overlook pedestrian safety, despite the fact that accidents involving pedestrians reached a 25-year high in 2017.

How it works: The proposed 2020 NCAP would test safety features and crash- avoidance systems in an updated set of scenarios, and clearly communicate to consumers how they factor into the overall vehicle safety rating.

  • High ratings will improve consumer confidence in partially and fully autonomous vehicles, which should create an incentive for AV companies to push for robust safety standards.

What to watch: NHTSA leadership is currently reviewing feedback submitted during the October public comment period by automakers, testing equipment suppliers, automotive safety councils and consumer advocacy groups. It is up to them to chart the path forward, ideally in time for manufacturers to conduct internal tests and implement design changes for their next model-year vehicles.

Christopher O’Connor is the CEO of Humanetics.

Go deeper

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.