“‘Safety culture’ is when you don’t let things slide,” says Philip Koopman, who studies safety in autonomy at Carnegie Mellon University. “If your self-driving system does something unexpected, just one time, you drill down and you don’t stop until you figure out why, and how to stop it happening again.” This sounds simple, but tracking down every last little, sometimes inconsequential bug takes a heap of time and money. You can find this sort of safety culture at work in factories, the oil industry, and hospitals. But the best example—the one especially relevant to a human-toting technology—comes from the sky.
Since the late 1960s, the American airline industry has cut its fatality rate in half.