In a new report, KPMG ranks countries' autonomous vehicle (AV) readiness by analyzing how policymakers perform on four pillars: policy and legislation, technology and innovation, infrastructure, and consumer acceptance. The top rankings?

  1. The Netherland

  2. Singapore

  3. Norway

  4. The United States

Each of these leaders has a strong track record in technology, high-quality road and digital infrastructure, and a population quick to adopt new technologies. As countries all around the world make progress on AV-related technology policies such as 5G networks and artificial intelligence, the U.S. must now adopt a comprehensive federal AV policy framework to continue to lead on AV. While a number of policies could help encourage innovation, a framework for the safe testing, development, and deployment of automated vehicle technology is crucial for the U.S. to maintain its leading edge.


At HARMAN, we know connected technologies have the potential to usher in a future of smart cities, increased mobility for the elderly and disabled, and more enjoyable and productive travel. Here's where we would start on an AV policy framework tailored to the unique characteristics of American life:

  1. Conduct national research on AV collisions and increase awareness of findings. One of the greatest challenges facing AVs is the need to build consumer trust and confidence in automated driving systems. DMV data from California indicates that most incidents involving AVs are rear-endings by manually-operated vehicles. In fact, 94 percent of crashes have human error as a factor. One could argue we have more to fear from our fellow drivers than AVs.

  2. Modernize Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). With the high number of crashes due to human choice or error, road safety is one of the clearest reasons to develop AVs. Analysis finds it has been, on average, 20 years since any given rule within the FMVSS has been created or updated. Adaptive regulation will allow for tech innovation for a flexible and forthcoming AV future, and collaboration between the government and private sector on these rules is integral to creating safety-first technologies.

  3. Re-introduce federal AV legislation. The 116th Congress has an opportunity to enable innovation, support environmental sustainability, and improve consumer safety by doing what the 115th Congress failed to do: pass the AV START Act. While the SELF DRIVE Act passed the House, the AV START Act stalled in the Senate in late 2018. AV technology will bring many societal benefits, but the automotive industry is eager for certainty and fidelity from lawmakers as it ramps up investments in AV R&D, testing, and deployment. A comprehensive, national AV policy will provide confidence and foster market activity.

We don’t have to go back to the drawing board when it comes to AV policy. As we look for ways to make the world more mobile, sustainable, and safe, we should revisit the AV START Act to pass and implement well-thought out legislation with increased urgency. For the U.S.’s unique policy environment, a federal framework is critical to set safety standards across states and establish consistency in AV-enabling infrastructure development. The U.S. risks falling behind and ceding its global technology leadership the longer policymakers hesitate to create an environment that encourages investment in emerging technology.