Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Federal Guidelines for Autonomous Vehicles Debuted

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Federal Guidelines for Autonomous Vehicles Debuted

Article excerpt

The federal government finally gave autonomous cars a green light Monday when it released the long-awaited Federal Automated Vehicles Policy.

With Uber already testing self-driving taxis in Pittsburgh and the Lyft president predicting Monday that autonomous cars will nearly replace private car ownership in the next 10 years, the guidelines could smooth the way for this nascent industry.

The Department of Transportation, which drafted the guidelines, expressed confidence in the potential for autonomous technology while outlining a set of technological regulations that manufacturers must be able to prove their self-driving vehicles can meet. The guidelines also clarify some of the policy questions that have lagged technological advances in recent years.

"We're laying it out there, what we care about, and inviting the industry to show us how they meet those standards," Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told USA Today. "Some companies haven't dealt with us, but they'll learn quickly we can go really deep on these topics. We want the public to be safe."

The new regulations outline a 15-point safety standard for the development and testing of self-driving vehicles, including how the car reacts in technological emergencies and how passengers are protected, both physically and from cyberattacks on the car's software. It also calls on companies to be transparent about the collection of safety data on their vehicles.

Additionally, the policy clarifies what falls under state and federal responsibility. The federal government will set safety standards and investigate noncompliance while the states will license drivers, register vehicles, and enforce traffic laws. States were also asked to adopt uniform policies in order to combat growing concerns about state borders creating barriers to the deployment and practical use of autonomous technology. …

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