Go for it! In essence, that’s the Trump administration’s new directive on driverless-car development. Under those guidelines, automakers and technology companies will be asked to voluntarily submit safety assessments to the U.S. Department of Transportation, but they don’t have to do it.
And states are being advised to use a light regulatory hand.
At a driverless-car test track in Ann Arbor, Mich., Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao painted a near future of greater safety, fewer deaths, higher productivity and more time spent with loved ones as robots increasingly take over the tasks of driving and commuters are freed for other activities.
She unveiled a document titled “Vision for Safety 2.0” and delivered a speech that was strong on vision and light on regulation.
“More than 35,000 people perish every year in vehicle crashes,” she said — 94% of those through driver error. After years of decline, fatalities are growing, she said. “Automated driving systems hold the promise of significantly reducing these errors and saving tens of thousands of lives in the process.”
Although the Vision document is vague, Congress is likely to pack on some meat. Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that eventually would let automakers each put as many as 25,000 cars on the road even if some features don’t meet current safety standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The cap would rise over a four-year period, allowing each automaker to field 275,000 driverless cars by the end of that period..
The House bill would require safety assessments, but permission to test would not be required. States would be required to follow federal regulations.
The Senate is considering a similar bill, though the Commerce Committee will consider at a Wednesday hearing whether to exempt trucks from the law. Labor unions fear that driverless technology could lead to job losses. Chao,…
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