Self-Driving Car Regulations to Become More Permissive Soon

To be set free on the public roads, self-driving cars first need proper regulations 1 photo
Photo: Wikipedia
Just the other day, Audi strategist Sven Schuwirth said that, in 20 years from now, autonomous cars would be so popular that domestic flights would disappear. It’s a theory, but for it to become reality, one major thing must be changed: traffic regulations. U.S. officials appear to have understood that technology moves faster than state laws evolve, considering they recently announced a relaxation regarding their position towards self-driving cars.
In May 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation underlined its cautious tone in an official policy statement referring to self-driving cars. These vehicles should be limited to testing and not “authorized for use by members of the public for general driving purposes.” Now, federal transportation officials seem to be changing their approach.

“I want the posture of our agency to be obviously vigilant on the safety front, but I don't want our agency to be skittish about innovations that are out there,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Tuesday. He was not precise about what this implies, but according to AP, legislation concerning the way autonomous cars drive on the road will loosen up.

One of the setbacks the likes of Google, Tesla Motors and other carmakers have pointed out is the fact that self-driving cars are not allowed to function on the public road without a licensed driver riding along. It’s a safety feature that implies a human driver being ready to take over the steering wheel if needed.

Moreover, Google wants to free its bubble-like electric cars on the street as quickly as possible once its trials prove the technology is ready to drive along classic automobiles. The IT giant may be remotely allowed to drive its cars in California, but when it comes to policymakers in Washington, things move a bit slower.

The change is bound to happen fast too, considering Foxx said he hoped the update overseen by his department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would be ready in “weeks, not months.”
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