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US Issues Guidelines on Self-Driving Cars

13 September, 2017, 05:27 | Author: Jeff Stephens
  • Secretary Elaine Chao announces new voluntary safety guidelines for self-driving cars during a visit to an autonomous vehicle testing facility Tuesday Sept. 12 2017 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Mich. The new

The Trump administration said Tuesday it would maintain a hands-off approach to federal regulation of autonomous vehicles, even as government investigators placed some blame on Tesla Inc.'s Autopilot technology for a fatal crash a year ago. There are no fully self-driving vehicles for sale, but autonomous cars with backup drivers are being tested in numerous states, including California, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Chao said self-driving cars could help the blind and disabled and dramatically reduce crashes. That guidance was also meant to be updated at least annually as the technology progresses.

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"The new guidance supports further development of this important new technology, which has the potential to change the way we travel and how we deliver goods and services", Chao said.

Tuesday's release of the DOT's AV guidance booklet follows the September 6 bipartisan approval by the U.S. House of Representatives of the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution (SELF DRIVE) Act, H.R. 3388. 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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The Transportation Department should verify that manufacturers of so-called Level 2 systems incorporate safeguards "that limit the use of automated vehicle control systems to those conditions for which they were designed", the NTSB recommended.

Chao said the administration plans to send out principles for its long-awaited infrastructure spending plan later this fall.

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Regulators and lawmakers have been struggling to keep up with the pace of self-driving technology. On one hand, the new guidance is "less burdensome" compared to the Obama administration's September 2016 semi-voluntary guidelines released a year ago so that innovation by automakers and tech companies isn't slowed down. "Those projects that have greater innovation will get a greater share of federal dollars", she said. "As technology advances and government gathers new information ... we will continue to revise and update this guidance". "In fact", it says, "DOT and NHTSA are already planning for 3.0".

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