US Starts to Change Its Mind on Self-Driving Cars
It looks like the US government is warming up to the idea of autonomous vehicles. To begin with, the US Department of Transportation’s official policy toward self-driving cars was cautious, saying the cars should be limited to testing only, and should not be “authorized for use by members of the public for general driving purposes.”
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But now, given the extensive testing that Google has been putting its self-driving cars through and the interest many car manufacturers are showing in the technology, it seems the DOT is (cautiously) coming around, leading to a policy update, although specifics are still to be seen.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “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.” He added that he hopes the new regulations will be out swiftly.
If the federal policy is relaxed, it is likely that the states, California in particular, will follow suit—federal guidelines are what led to the rule that a driver must be behind the wheel, despite protestations from Google that it would be safer without a steering wheel.
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Some, like nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog, are glad for the government’s slow-moving policy changes, saying that authorities should “not succumb to corporate pressure to move so fast that our safety on the highways is compromised.”
News Source: Associated Press via US News