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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.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2021 - Economy & Business

The cloud-based car is arriving

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The notion of the car as a "computer on wheels" is moving past the realm of hype and closer to reality, which will transform the driving experience and improve road safety, too.

Why it matters: The arrival of long-promised technologies like 5G connectivity and new high-performance computers means cars will improve over time, instead of depreciating the minute they leave the dealer lot.

Most teachers are white. Most students aren't.

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The nation's 6.6 million teacher workforce has grown more racially and ethnically diverse over the past three decades — but not nearly fast enough to keep pace with a student population that's nearing majority-minority in public schools, two new reports show.

Why it matters: The disparities are especially acute between Hispanic students and teachers, and in schools with 90% or higher non-white student populations.

Updated 11 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.