Trump Administration backs Department of Transportation’s ‘Automated Vehicles 3.0’

Rules that impede the development and deployment of fully autonomous automated vehicles will be revised.

As per a document made public on Thursday, the Trump Administration plans to surge ahead and revise safety rules that bar fully automated autonomous vehicles from being on the roads; this includes cars without traditional items such as mirrors, steering wheels, and pedals.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “intends to reconsider the necessity and appropriateness of its current safety standards” as applied to automated vehicles, said the U.S. Department of Transportation in its latest 80-page update of “Automated Vehicles 3.0.”

The Department of Transportation had stated, the NHTSA is seeking comment “on proposed changes to particular safety standards to accommodate automated vehicle technologies and the possibility of setting exceptions to certain standards that are relevant only when human drivers are present.”

Elaine Chao, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine released the document at a department event.

The report states, autonomous automated cars have the potential to dramatically reduce traffic crashes and road deaths. But she added the “public has legitimate concerns about the safety, security, and privacy of automated technology.”

Currently, automakers have to meet nearly 75 auto safety standards, the bulk of which were written assuming that a licensed driver will be in control of the vehicle.

In January 2018, General Motors Co had filed a petition seeking for an exemption from the current rules to use vehicles which will not feature traditional controls that are used by drivers to control the car, including steering wheels, pedals etc. GM had said it planned to deploy such vehicles as part of its ride-sharing fleet in 2019.

While NHTSA has yet to declare the GM petition complete, a step necessary before it can rule on the merits, it has however said, it plans on modernizing its procedures to reviewing exemption petitions.

Alphabet Inc’s Waymo unit plans to launch an autonomous ride-hailing service for consumers which will not require any human driver behind the steering wheel in Arizona later in 2018. However, unlike GM’s offering, Waymo’s vehicles will have human controls, at least for now.

According to congressional aides, the NHTSA has stepped up its focus on self-driving vehicles. However, legislation in Congress on self-driving cars, which had passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2017, has since stalled. Nevertheless, there is a slender chance of it being approved later this year.

Facing delays, automakers have warned that the NHTSA could take too long to rewrite the rules to allow for the widespread adoption of self-driving cars without human controls.

The department also said it “no longer recognizes the designations of ten automated vehicle proving grounds” announced in January 2017.

The Transportation Department also announced it will start studying the workforce impacts of automated vehicles with the Labor, Commerce, and the Health and Human Services departments.

The report also states, the Trump administration will not support calls to humans from driving on the road; the department “embraces the freedom of the open road, which includes the freedom for Americans to drive their own vehicles.”

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