Self-driving cars: Feds’ guidelines coming, but states will still rule

A new regulatory framework for self-driving cars is coming from the federal government next month. But what good will it be?

States will still be allowed to implement their own rules, according to Mark Rosekind, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief.

“We will have no say in what that states want to do,” Rosekind said Wednesday at a conference in Detroit, according to the Wall Street Journal.

That means companies working on autonomous vehicles will probably still have to contend with proposed rules such as requiring drivers behind the wheel of supposedly driverless cars (California), or special licenses (New Jersey). And there’s more where that came from: There are dozens of pieces of legislation from around the country related to robot cars.

Google, a pioneer in autonomous driving, has pushed for federal action on the issue. In his March testimony before a Senate committee, Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car effort, said:

The leadership of the federal government is critically important given the growing patchwork of
state laws and regulations on self­-driving cars… If every state is left to go its own way without a unified approach, operating self­-driving cars across state boundaries would be an unworkable situation and one that will significantly hinder safety innovation, interstate commerce, national competitiveness, and the eventual deployment of autonomous vehicles.

A Google spokesman said the company had no additional comment this morning.

Rosekind of the NHTSA said the guidelines that will be unveiled in July will offer different approaches to oversight of driverless vehicles. He also stressed the need for the government to be “nimble” when it comes to this rapidly advancing technology.

The autonomous vehicle industry “is on version 238.32 by the time we get regulations out,” Rosekind said, according to Reuters.

 

Photo: A Google self-driving car travels eastbound on San Antonio Road Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 22, 2015 in Mountain View, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

 

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