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Department Of Transportation Reveals General Guidelines For Self-Driving Cars

| September 14, 2017


The Department of Transportation unveiled its revised guidelines on automated driving systems, outlining its recommended — but not mandatory — best practices for companies developing self-driving cars.

In a statement released Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said, “We can look forward to a future with fewer traffic fatalities and increased mobility for all Americans.”

Compared to last year’s version of the guidelines, the new release is a bit slimmer in scale and extent.

Here’s our take: The new guidelines make clear again that manufacturers are not required to submit to voluntary assessments — although they are “encouraged” — and that those assessments are “not subject to Federal approval.”

The new guidelines also no longer apply to Level 2 vehicles — or vehicles with partial automation, in facets such as acceleration and steering, that still require drivers to “remain engaged with the driving task.”

On the same day the new guidance on Level 2 vehicles was issued, the National Transportation Safety Board faulted a Tesla automated driving system for playing a “major role” in a collision that killed its test driver last year.

David Friedman, former interim head of NHTSA, says the new guidelines will do little to rectify the kinds of problems that led to the crash — in fact, he says, just the opposite: “Now it’s back to the wild, wild west for those systems.”

“Just as the NTSB says the government and industry should be stepping up its efforts to ensure the safety of Level 2 automated vehicles,” he added, “the Department of Transportation and Secretary Chao are rolling back their responsibility in that space.”

Nevertheless, the Department of Transportation says the development of this technology will do much to reduce the number of serious automobile crashes, 94 percent of which it says are due to human error.

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Category: General Update, News

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