Self-driving technology has been quite the rage, with major tech and auto companies in a race to launch their products first. Top companies such as Google spin-off Waymo and Uber are already working on self-driving vehicle projects, and they are upbeat about the future of self-driving technology. However, legitimate concerns about these autonomous vehicles continue to linger.
New rules to support self-driving technology
There have long been apprehensions about the complexity of car design and legal expectations. Now the U.S. seems to be taking note of that, as the government is all set to create new guidelines for autonomous vehicles as soon as next week in Michigan. United States Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao could unveil the revised guidelines next Tuesday at the self-driving vehicle testing facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Reuters claims, citing sources aware of the matter.
Those who support the new rules argue that companies already working on self-driving technology will get a major boost from the new rules. However, critics think that it is too soon to give a free hand to companies. According to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the legislation will contribute to making the nation’s transportation network “safer and more efficient.”
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“This formula is the foundation for what makes America the most innovative country in the world,” said McCarthy.
On Wednesday, the House is all set to lay down clearer rules after it votes on the bill under fast track rules that allow for no amendments.
Less control for states
Recently, a House of Representatives subcommittee approved a proposal to deploy 100,000 self-driving vehicles without aligning them with the current auto safety standards. The legislation would need participating automakers to submit safety assessment reports to regulators, but it would not require pre-market approval of advanced vehicle technologies. If automakers are looking to not follow the safety standards, they will need to show their self-driving vehicles’ functions.
Once the legislation is passed, federal guidelines, for self-driving vehicles will be in play, and current state laws might not hold any validity. States will only be concerned with registrations, liability, licensing, insurance and safety inspections, but controlling the car performance standards will be out of their reach, notes Lexology.
Re-writing the rules is a complex process
In an earlier report, Bloomberg noted that writing new rules for autonomous vehicles is a taxing process. The existing car safety rulebook is more than 900 pages and covers everything from seat belts to electronic stability control. However, these rulebooks belong to an era when humans were behind the wheel.
Bloomberg claims it could take as long as seven years to re-write the auto safety rulebook. About 73 safety standards on the books refer to human drivers, according to a 2016 study by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, a research division of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
However, just last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mentioned in a letter to Google that the company’s autonomous driving system could be taken as a “driver” for regulatory purposes. However, that does not refer to rules regarding the brakes that “shall be activated by means of foot control.”