Nov 20, 2020 - Economy & Business

U.S. lays groundwork for self-driving car standards

Illustration of finger pushing car off the screen

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

U.S. auto safety regulators began a regulatory process on Thursday to solicit public input on how to ensure the safety of future self-driving vehicles.

Why it matters: The proposed rulemaking is a step toward the adoption of new safety standards for autonomous vehicles, but it could be years before any rules are final.

  • Safety advocates criticize the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its hands-off approach to self-driving cars, while others have raised issues about liability and cybersecurity as well.
  • "This rulemaking will help address legitimate public concerns about safety, security and privacy without hampering innovation in the development of automated driving systems," said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in a statement.

What they're saying: "The industry is clearly looking for some federal guidance and Legislative framework to operate within," said Selika Josiah Talbott, a policy expert at American University.

  • "One can only hope that this means someone at DOT finally decided that the current lack of oversight of the driverless car industry was a bad idea both for safety and for the long-term successful deployment of the technology," said Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.

The bottom line: The Trump administration is kicking off the process, but the deadline for public comments is Jan. 19, meaning any rules will be enacted under the next administration.

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