Department of Transportation releases safety guidelines for Autonomous Vehicles

The U.S. House passed a bill to speed up deployment of self driving vehicles, and along with that, the Department of Transportation would be required to draft new safety guidelines pertaining to autonomous vehicles.

On Wednesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao delivered new guidelines in a visit to a testing facility at the University of Michigan.

Previously, there was a barrier between tech companies and the government. Under the Obama administration, the laws that were in place heavily restricted tech and auto manufacturers from production and deployment of autonomous vehicles. Now, under the Trump administration, the new bill allows leeway for companies as restrictions have been eased down.

The House’s reason for speeding up deployment of self driving vehicles is for the safety concern aspect. It is reported by the government that 94 percent of car accidents are caused by simple human error that can potentially be fixed by automated driving systems (ADS).

According to Forbes, the biggest difference between last year's version and the new one released on Tuesday is safety assessment. For example in 2016, the new guidelines cut down from the previous 15-point safety assessment proposed last year, which companies would submit assessments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The new guidelines call for a 12-point safety assessment now.

The new checkpoint safety guideline list clearly states that the checkpoints are not “mandatory”, but instead they are highly recommended to follow and that companies do not need to send in an assessment, but it is “encouraged”.

The guidelines highlight the standard regulations such as the ADS should be able to detect objects or people surrounding or in front of the car or an Object and Event Detection and Response (OEDR). The vehicle should be able to understand the geographic region as well ongoing weather and the speed limit and adjust itself.

The Department of Transportation is also no longer considering level 2 automated vehicles into the guidelines. Level 2 is defined at steering, braking, and acceleration but still requiring the driver to stay attentive on the road.

The guidelines care more for level 3, 4, and 5, which doesn’t require the driver to be attentive at all during the drive, according to Forbes.

The new guidelines have raised a lot of concerns and attention from the public, stating that it doesn’t regulate safety enough. The Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both say that the main goal is safety for drivers and passengers, but the guideline isn’t mandating important regulations and could be a huge impact.

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