The US Department of Transportation (DoT) has released new guidance that calls for lighter regulation on driverless tech.
It is hoped that the new guidelines, titled ‘A Vision for Safety 2.0’, will stimulate innovation and to give the US a head start on global competitors in developing the technologies that will transform transport in coming decades.
The DoT’s guidance advises automakers and technology companies to voluntarily submit safety assessments, while states are being asked to use a light regulatory hand.
“The new guidance supports further development of this important new technology, which has the potential to change the way we travel and how we deliver goods and services,” said US Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
“The safe deployment of automated vehicle technologies means we can look forward to a future with fewer traffic fatalities and increased mobility for all Americans.”
Despite the DoT’s commitment to driverless technology, some consumer groups expressed dismay at the new guidlines.
The Consumer Watchdog, for one, argued that the autonomous vehicle guidelines posed a threat to highway safety, and called for the enactment of enforceable federal motor vehicle safety standards specifically covering self-driving cars.
“This isn’t a vision for safety,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director. “It’s a roadmap that allows manufacturers to do whatever they want, wherever and whenever they want, turning our roads into private laboratories for robot cars with no regard for our safety.”
A Vision for Safety 2.0 builds on the previous guidelines for autonomous vehicles issued by the Obama administration last year.
The new version is half the length of the original, and the new streamlined approach to driverless technology was welcomed by carmakers.
“The revised policy provides clear, streamlined, and flexible guidance for the safe and responsible design, manufacture, and deployment of self-driving vehicles,” General Motors said in response.
“General Motors appreciates DOT’s clarification of the separate roles of federal and state governments in regulating self-driving vehicles and its guidance for state policymakers.”