NHTSA Sets Two Meetings on Self-Driving Cars

NHTSA will use the them to gather information on issues related to safe operation of automated vehicles in order to provide operational guidance to vehicle manufacturers.

Ready or not, the driving public needs to understand what challenges and opportunities come with the use of self-driving motor vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced it two public meetings soon to help it develop guidelines for the safe deployment of these vehicles; the meetings will take place April 8 in Washington, D.C., and in California at a yet-to-be-announced date. NHTSA will use them to gather information on issues related to safe operation of automated vehicles in order to provide operational guidance to vehicle manufacturers.

"We are witnessing a revolution in auto technology that has the potential to save thousands of lives," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. "In order to achieve that potential, we need to establish guidelines for manufacturers that clearly outline how we expect automated vehicles to function – not only safely, but more safely – on our roads."

DOT has already promised to work with states to develop model state policies, and President Obama's new budget proposes a 10-year, $3.9 billion investment in advancing autonomous vehicle technology.

NHTSA has released an initial assessment of current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that identifies key challenges for full deployment of automated vehicles. While there are few existing federal regulatory hurdles to deployment of automated vehicles with traditional designs and equipment to accommodate a human driver, there may be greater obstacles to vehicle designs without controls for human drivers, such as a steering wheel or brake pedals. "The Volpe Center report is a great first look at the current standards, and it highlights the need for the actions Secretary Foxx outlined in January [2016]," said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. "It also shows there are few current restrictions on some automated vehicle concepts, which highlights the need to establish clear expectations for their safe operation. At the same time, for other vehicle designs, the agency has more work to do to ensure the safety of new innovations, and we look forward to learning more from stakeholders as we start that work."

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