U.S. eases safety guidelines for self-driving vehicle tests
The Trump administration is updating safety guidelines for self-driving cars in an attempt to clear barriers for automakers and tech companies who want to get test vehicles on the road.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the new voluntary guidelines Tuesday during a visit to an autonomous vehicle testing facility at the University of Michigan.
The new guidelines update policies issued last fall by the Obama administration, which were also largely voluntary. Under Obama, automakers were asked to follow a 15-point safety assessment before putting test vehicles on the road.
The new guidelines reduce that to a 12-point voluntary assessment, and no longer require automakers to consider ethical or privacy issues.
Chao emphasized that the guidelines aren’t meant to force automakers to use certain technology or meet stringent requirements; instead, they’re designed to clarify what autonomous vehicle developers should be considering before they put test cars on the road.
“This is a guidance document,” Chao said. “We want to make sure those who are involved understand how important safety is. We also want to ensure that the innovation and the creativity of our country remain.”
Critics say the voluntary nature of the guidelines gives the government no authority to prevent dangerous experimental vehicles.
“This isn’t a vision for safety,” said John M. Simpson, head of privacy for a nonprofit progressive group called Consumer Watchdog. “It’s a roadmap that allows manufacturers to do whatever they want, wherever and whenever they want, turning our roads into private laboratories for robot cars with no regard for our safety.”