US Issues Guidelines on Self-Driving Cars

Andrew Cummings
September 13, 2017

The updated guidance, called "A Vision for Safety 2.0", is announced by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao during an appearance Tuesday at a test facility for self-driving cars in Ann Arbor, state of MI. She said it was the right approach for technology that is constantly changing, and regulators will be able to bar autonomous vehicles if they prove unsafe in the future.

These federal regulations would also prevent state legislators from barring automakers from building and using these vehicles as the federal ruling would be king in this situation.

The Trump administration is expected to keep the guidelines voluntary, but will work on streamlining them.

Basically, it sounds like industry got a lot of what it was asking for here, with streamlined processes and fewer barriers to get testing.

Chao said the federal guidelines will be updated again next year. "It is one of America's hallmarks, and it is envied throughout the world".

And she acknowledged the narrow space where US regulators and lawmakers are operating as they attempt to keep pace with advances in self-driving technologies.

The Trump Administration document, A Vision for Safety 2.0, does contain a few notable revisions to the voluntary guidelines issued a year ago by the Obama administration.

"While these guidelines are important, they're not as transformational as the Self Drive Act could be or the bill we have coming out of the Senate could be", Katz said. According to the NHTSA, 94 percent of serious crashes are due to human error.

Under the new guideline, the federal government does not have a mechanism to force automakers to submit safety assessments before they put self-driving cars on the road, which is welcomed by automakers. Some countries, like South Korea, require pre-market government approval before autonomous vehicles can go out on the road, so the on the more lenient side, Smith said.

According to the NTSB assessment, the cause of the crash was a combination of the "driver's inattention" and the Tesla automation system that "permitted the vehicle driver's overreliance on the automation". Automakers can receive exemptions to test autonomous cars without meeting current auto safety standards in the first year, although manufacturers would be required to demonstrate certain safety capabilities.

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