While the Obama Administration’s focused on safety issues vis-à-vis self-driving vehicles, the current administration aims to ease the rules of business.
On Monday, the head of the U.S. Department of Transportation stated that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration will unveil revised guidelines for self-driving vehicles in the coming months.
The announcement follows calls by auto manufacturers to draft regulations for self-driving cars and eliminate barriers for autonomous vehicles.
“The pressure is mounting for the federal government to do something” regarding autonomous vehicles, said Elaine Chao, the secretary for the U.S. Transportation Department. As per Chao, the Trump Administration is treading carefully on the subject.
“We don’t want rules that impede future technological advances,” said Chao, without being specific on the nature of proposals her department will include and how they would differ from policy guidance proposed by the earlier administration.
Tech companies as well as traditional auto manufacturers, including Alphabet’s Way, Ford Motors and General Motors, are aggressively pushing the limits of automated vehicle technology.
“We need a more concrete regulatory framework,” said Ken Washington, Ford’s chief technology officer in Detroit.
Automakers want a clear set of rules to self-certify, just as they do with conventional vehicles, that their autonomous vehicle is safe for driving.
As per Bill Ford Jr, Ford’s Executive Chairman, he feels “quite confident” that the hardware and software for self-driving cars will be ready by 2021, regardless of other big issues.
“Things like ethics,” can be quite complicated, said Ford. Does the vehicle choose to save 10 pedestrians or the driver? Individual automakers cannot have their own ethics software but must instead collaborate as an industry, said Ford.
As per Ron Medford, Waymo’s director of safety, he expects autonomous vehicles to first appear in “managed fleet operations,” and not as vehicles sold to individuals.
Responding to industry suggestions, Chao said the new rules will support innovation by the industry and aim to encourage “new entrants and ideas that deliver safer vehicles.”
On several occasions, automakers have met with Chao in order to urge her to tweak Obama-era automated vehicle rules.
The Obama Administration’s guidelines had called on automakers to voluntarily submit details of self-driving vehicle systems to regulators in a 15-point “safety assessment” and had urge states to defer to the federal government on most vehicle regulations.
Automakers don’t like the fact that the Obama Administration’s rules require them to hand over crucial safety related data which could potentially make the voluntary safety guidelines mandatory.