US updates self-driving car guidelines as more hit the road_Science & Military_Asia Pacific Daily

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US updates self-driving car guidelines as more hit the road

Science & Military2017-09-13

The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled new guidelines for self-driving car safety with the aim of making it easier for automakers and tech companies to get test vehicles on the road. The new voluntary guidelines announced by US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao update policies issued last fall by the Obama administration, which were also largely voluntary. Chao emphasized that the guidelines aren’t meant to force automakers to use certain technologies or meet stringent requirements. Instead, they’re designed to clarify what vehicle developers and states should consider, as more test cars reach public roads. Updated guidance Under the Obama administration, automakers were asked to follow a 15-point safety assessment plan before putting test vehicles on the road. The new guidelines reduce that to a 12-point assessment, asking automakers to consider things like cybersecurity, crash protection, how the vehicle interacts with occupants and the backup plans if the vehicle encounters a problem. They no longer ask automakers to think about ethics or privacy issues or share information beyond crash data, as the previous guidelines did. US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announces new voluntary safety guidelines for self-driving cars during a visit to an autonomous vehicle testing facility. The guidelines also make clear that the federal government – not individual states – determine whether autonomous vehicles are safe. That is the same guidance the Obama administration gave. States can still regulate autonomous vehicles, but they’re encouraged not to pass laws that would put barriers in front of testing and use. Chao said the federal guidelines will be updated again next year. Praise and criticism Automakers praised the guidelines. “You are providing a streamlined, flexible system to accommodate the development and deployment of new technologies,” said Mitch Bainwol, the head of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. The alliance represents 12 major automakers, including General Motors Co., Mercedes-Benz and Toyota Motor Corp. But critics said the guidelines don’t ensure self-driving technology is safe before going out on the road. Elaine Chao, right, looks at a new system. “NHTSA needs to be empowered to protect consumers against new hazards that may emerge, and to ensure automated systems work as they’re supposed to without placing consumers at risk,” said David Friedman, a former acting NHTSA administrator who now directs cars and product policy analysis for Consumers Union, the policy division of Consumer Reports magazine. Early estimates indicate there were more than 40,000 traffic fatalities in the US last year, and an estimated 94 percent of crashes involve human error. Since the new guidelines are policy, not law, they don’t legally change what the state and federal government and vehicle developers can do, said Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina who tracks government policy on self-driving cars. Some countries, like South Korea, require pre-market government approval before autonomous vehicles can go out on the road, so the US is on the more lenient side, Smith said. (AP)

The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled new guidelines for self-driving car safety with the aim of making it easier for automakers and tech companies to get test vehicles on the road.

The new voluntary guidelines announced by US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao update policies issued last fall by the Obama administration, which were also largely voluntary.

Chao emphasized that the guidelines aren’t meant to force automakers to use certain technologies or meet stringent requirements. Instead, they’re designed to clarify what vehicle developers and states should consider, as more test cars reach public roads.

Updated guidance

Under the Obama administration, automakers were asked to follow a 15-point safety assessment plan before putting test vehicles on the road.

The new guidelines reduce that to a 12-point assessment, asking automakers to consider things like cybersecurity, crash protection, how the vehicle interacts with occupants and the backup plans if the vehicle encounters a problem.

They no longer ask automakers to think about ethics or privacy issues or share information beyond crash data, as the previous guidelines did.

US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announces new voluntary safety guidelines for self-driving cars during a visit to an autonomous vehicle testing facility.

US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announces new voluntary safety guidelines for self-driving cars during a visit to an autonomous vehicle testing facility.

The guidelines also make clear that the federal government – not individual states – determine whether autonomous vehicles are safe.

That is the same guidance the Obama administration gave.

States can still regulate autonomous vehicles, but they’re encouraged not to pass laws that would put barriers in front of testing and use.

Chao said the federal guidelines will be updated again next year.

Praise and criticism

Automakers praised the guidelines.

“You are providing a streamlined, flexible system to accommodate the development and deployment of new technologies,” said Mitch Bainwol, the head of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

The alliance represents 12 major automakers, including General Motors Co., Mercedes-Benz and Toyota Motor Corp.

But critics said the guidelines don’t ensure self-driving technology is safe before going out on the road.

Elaine Chao, right, looks at a new system.

Elaine Chao, right, looks at a new system.

“NHTSA needs to be empowered to protect consumers against new hazards that may emerge, and to ensure automated systems work as they’re supposed to without placing consumers at risk,” said David Friedman, a former acting NHTSA administrator who now directs cars and product policy analysis for Consumers Union, the policy division of Consumer Reports magazine.

Early estimates indicate there were more than 40,000 traffic fatalities in the US last year, and an estimated 94 percent of crashes involve human error.

Since the new guidelines are policy, not law, they don’t legally change what the state and federal government and vehicle developers can do, said Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina who tracks government policy on self-driving cars.

Some countries, like South Korea, require pre-market government approval before autonomous vehicles can go out on the road, so the US is on the more lenient side, Smith said.

(AP)

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