Trump Administration to Tread Lightly on Autonomous-Vehicles Rules

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao looks at autonomous vehicle technology after announcing new voluntary safety guidelines for self-driving cars during a visit to an autonomous vehicle testing facility Tuesday Sept. 12 2017 at the University

The revised guidance - to be unveiled Tuesday in MI by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao - drops a proposal issued under President Barack Obama that considered new powers for federal safety regulators to police automated vehicle safety, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Obama-era policy stopped short of calling for new regulations, but it did lay ground rules for how companies should approach safety.

The guidelines also stated the federal government would be in charge of determining whether those vehicles were safe. The first such guidelines released under the Trump administration, the Vision for Safety 2.0 scales back some of the recommendations outlined past year under President Obama.

Basically, it sounds like industry got a lot of what it was asking for here, with streamlined processes and fewer barriers to get testing.

Chao said the Trump plan will provide for competition for federal money. "It is one of America's hallmarks, and it is envied throughout the world".

"They are not meant to", Chao said.

Chao released the voluntary guidelines on the same day that the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that federal highway safety regulators take a more active role in monitoring automakers as they bring vehicles to market with systems such as Tesla Inc's (TSLA.O) Autopilot that enable partial automation of driving.

And she acknowledged the narrow space where US regulators and lawmakers are operating as they attempt to keep pace with advances in self-driving technologies.

Nevertheless, the Department of Transportation says the development of this technology will do much to reduce the number of serious automobile crashes, 94 percent of which it says are due to human error. But it said automakers should incorporate safeguards that keep drivers' attention engaged and limit the use of automated systems to the areas they were designed for, like highways. Several companies objected to the expanded authority, such as the ability to approve or reject a self-driving vehicle system before it could be sold. Automakers can receive exemptions to test autonomous cars without meeting current auto safety standards in the first year, although manufacturers would be required to demonstrate certain safety capabilities.



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