Trump Administration Introduces Industry-Friendly Guidelines for Self-Driving Cars

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao looks at autonomous vehicle technology after announcing new voluntary safety guidelines for self-driving cars during a visit to an autonomous vehicle testing facility Tuesday Sept. 12 2017 at the University

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao looks at autonomous vehicle technology after announcing new voluntary safety guidelines for self-driving cars during a visit to an autonomous vehicle testing facility Tuesday Sept. 12 2017 at the University

The bill would speed commercialization of self-driving cars without human controls and prevent states from blocking their deployment, and would improve the role of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Trump Administration document, A Vision for Safety 2.0, does contain a few notable revisions to the voluntary guidelines issued a year ago by the Obama administration.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is expected to announce updated safety guidelines for self-driving vehicles Tuesday during a visit to a MI vehicle testing facility. On the same day the new plan relaxed guidance on Level 2 vehicles, the National Transportation Safety Board faulted a Tesla automated driving system for playing a "major role" in a collision that killed its test driver past year.

Chao said the federal guidelines will be updated again next year. She will also recommend that states should defer safety or performance rules to federal regulators, and will recommend that states focus on traditional issues like licensing, liability and insurance, two people familiar with the announcement said.

Chao said self-driving cars could help the blind and disabled and dramatically reduce crashes.

The U.S. House approved legislation last week that would require automakers to comply with the safety assessment to get approval to sell self-driving cars that do not meet all current safety requirements. But it said automakers should incorporate safeguards that keep drivers' attention engaged and limit the use of automated systems to the areas they were designed for, like highways. Early estimates indicate there were more than 40,000 traffic fatalities in the US last year, and an estimated 94 percent of crashes involve human error.

Specifically, the House bill would permit automakers to put up to 25,000 AVs on the road in the first year without meeting existing auto safety standards, a cap that would rise over three years to 100,000 vehicles a year.

"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".

In fact, DOT already plans to update this guidance by releasing document 3.0 in 2018, Chao said.

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