Obama Administration Rolls Out Self-Driving Guidelines
The Transportation Department announced guidelines for Tesla Motors (TSLA) and a slew of other autonomous driving hopefuls, while also pre-empting state and local government restrictions.
The DOT, which will roll out the 15-point Federal Automated Vehicles safety assessment on Tuesday, says "the policy is rooted in DOT's view that automated vehicles hold enormous potential benefits for safety, mobility and sustainability."
The federal government says that it has oversight over vehicles, including software and systems, while states should regulate human drivers. So while automakers and technology companies such as Tesla, Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL), General Motors (GM), Ford Motor (F), Uber and Mobileye (MBLY) may quibble over specific federal decisions, they may welcome consistent and generally pro-autonomous regulation over a wide array of local standards.
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The DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is clarifying its recall authority for automated tech.
"In particular, it emphasizes that semi-automated driving systems -- ones in which the human continues to monitor the driving environment and perform some of the driving task -- that fail to adequately account for the possibility that a distracted or inattentive driver-occupant might fail to retake control of the vehicle in a safety-critical situation may be defined as an unreasonable risk to safety and subject to recall. This ensures that companies and Americans understand our expectations around safety. If NHTSA determines that a vehicle is unsafe, it will use its authority to remove it from the road."
Tesla's Autopilot has come under criticism for insufficient safeguards to make sure human drivers keep their hands on the wheel. Tesla is unveiling an update, perhaps as soon as Wednesday, that will include shutting auto-steering programs if the driver ignores warnings to keep its hands on the wheel.