Federal Automated Vehicles Policy – September 2016

DOT rolls out policy for autonomous vehicles

On Monday, the US Department of Transportation issued the first federal guidelines for autonomous vehicles (AVs). The new policies arrive not a moment too soon; the horizon for widespread introduction of autonomous vehicles continues to inch ever closer, as this timeline from Mashable makes clear. While government guidelines and regulations are often viewed as an impediment to innovation, this policy signals the administration’s support of AVs as a means to achieve safer roads. Rather than clamping down, the DOT’s guidelines leave a bit of wiggle room, as reported by the New York Times:

“We left some areas intentionally vague because we wanted to outline the areas that need to be addressed and leave the rest to innovators,” said Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It’s a sentiment President Obama reiterates in this editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, hometown paper of the city where Uber is currently testing a fleet of self-driving cars:

Regulation can go too far. Government sometimes gets it wrong when it comes to rapidly changing technologies. That’s why this new policy is flexible and designed to evolve with new advances. There are always those who argue that government should stay out of free enterprise entirely, but I think most Americans would agree we still need rules to keep our air and water clean, and our food and medicine safe…. What’s more, the quickest way to slam the brakes on innovation is for the public to lose confidence in the safety of new technologies.

Here’s a succinct summary of the policy in Vox. One aspect of the new policy will surely rankle privacy advocates; as Bloomberg reports, the guidelines call for AV makers to share data with each other (and the DOT) so that machine learning happens across the industry, not just within each manufacturer’s ecosystem. And here’s a look at the 15-point safety checklist included in the guidelines. +Will you need a licence to operate a self-driving car?”

 

Source = O’Reilly newsletter

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