The feds begin regulatory oversight of self-driving cars

by Brian Wolfman

Last October, we told you that California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that establishes a regulatory framework for allowing self-driving cars on California roads. If self-driving cars work as planned they will greatly reduce crashes that kill and maim tens of thousands of people every year. They'll improve fuel economy too.

Now the feds are getting involved, in part to help the states establish their policies. Last Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced 

a new policy concerning vehicle automation, including its plans for
research on related safety issues and recommendations for states related
to the testing, licensing, and regulation of "autonomous" or
"self-driving" vehicles. Self-driving vehicles are those in which
operation of the vehicle occurs without direct driver input to control
the steering, acceleration, and braking and are designed so that the
driver is not expected to constantly monitor the roadway while operating
in self-driving mode.

The policy covers

  • An explanation of the many areas of vehicle innovation and types of
    automation that offer significant potential for enormous reductions in
    highway crashes and deaths;
  • A summary of the research NHTSA has planned or has begun to help
    ensure that all safety issues related to vehicle automation are explored
    and addressed; and
  • Recommendations to states that have authorized operation of
    self-driving vehicles, for test purposes, on how best to ensure safe
    operation as these new concepts are being tested on highway.

NHSTA's full policy statement is available here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *