New Federal Guidelines for Self-Driving Autos Coming in July

Posted by at 11:32 am on June 9, 2016

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The administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has told an industry conference in Detroit that new Federal government guidelines for self-driving, or autonomous, vehicles will be published in July, reports Fortune. According to NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind, government legislation as it currently stands is moving too slowly in comparison with the speed of technological advancement in the field of developing autonomous vehicles. With a staggering 38,300 people killed on US roads last year, along with another 4.4 million injured in vehicle accidents, 92 percent of which are the result of driver error, autonomous vehicle technology stands to dramatically reduce these figures.

“[The industry] is on version 238.32 by the time we get regulations set out,” Mark Rosekind said. As a consequence, regulations that remain unchanging “will not work for this area.” “We will have something different in July,” Rosekind added. For Rosekind, autonomous vehicle safety does not have to be perfect. “I’d say start at two times” better than regular cars he argues. Current fatality rates in the US, Rosekind said are the equivalent to “a 747 crashing every week for a year…it’s unacceptable.”

The NHTSA has previously argued that autonomous vehicles without steering wheels and gas pedals could be challenging to legislate, however it does not see too many hurdles in the way of introducing autonomous vehicles with controls that allow a person to override the system if required. To help accelerate the legislative process, Tesla has reportedly offered its data from its self-driving vehicle research, which Rosekind said the NHTSA would be happy to look at. Google, however, wants the states to uniformly comply with Federal guidelines. “We have seen 15 states propose such laws over the last 12 months,” reads a Google statement on the subject.

Some of Tesla’s current vehicles offer limited autonomous driving capabilities, while Google is continuing its research into fully autonomous vehicles, as is every other major auto manufacturer around the globe.

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