US says legal hurdles still delay the deployment of self-driving cars image

The US auto regulators said there were still some regulatory hurdles to pass before self-driving cars could be offered to customers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would hold some public meetings this spring to gather input as it developed guidelines for the safe deployment of autonomous technologies, that it hoped to release in July, as part of Agency’s efforts to provide automakers the proper regulatory direction. “We are witnessing a revolution in auto technology that has the potential to save thousands of lives,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “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.”

However, NHTSA also released an initial assessment of current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that identified key challenges in the full deployment of automated vehicles. The report, made by Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, found that there were several existing federal regulatory hurdles to deployment of self-driving cars with traditional with human controls, but it also showed that there may be greater obstacles for autonomous cars without a steering wheel or brake pedals. The Volpe Center made the report at the request of NHTSA and DOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office.

“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,” said NHTSA Administrator 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.”