Provided the legal hurdles faced by the developers of autonomous cars, the top U.S. auto safety agency will publish guidelines for the safe deployment of automated safety technology.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday unviled plans to hold a pair of public meetings this spring to gather input. The meetings, to be held in Washington, D.C., and California, will gather information on a series of issues related to safe operation of automated vehicles as part of NHTSA’s efforts to provide manufacturers with operational guidance.
The first meeting will public meeting will be held on April 8 at USDOT Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"We are witnessing a revolution in auto technology that has the potential to save thousands of lives," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "In order to achieve that potential, we need to establish guidelines for manufacturers that clearly outline how we expect automated vehicles to function – not only safely, but more safely – on our roads."
The agency on Friday also released an initial assessment of current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that identifies key challenges in full deployment of automated vehicles. The report, prepared by USDOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, found that there are few existing federal regulatory hurdles to deployment of automated vehicles with traditional designs and equipment to accommodate a human driver. But the report found that there may be greater obstacles to vehicle designs without controls for human drivers, such as a steering wheel or brake pedals.
Major automakers and technology companies including Google (Alphabet) are racing to develop and sell vehicles that can drive themselves at least part of the time.
Alphabet is taking a stop further and eventually wants to be able to deploy fully autonomous vehicles without human controls.
General Motors Co said Friday it is buying Cruise Automation, a San Francisco self-driving vehicle startup.
In February, NHTSA said the artificial intelligence system piloting a self-driving Google car could be considered the driver under federal law, a major step toward ultimately winning approval for autonomous vehicles on the roads.