The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued its final rule on driverless vehicle safety standards.
The new rule, NHTSA said, would modernize Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and clarify occupant protection standards for cars with automated driving systems designed without traditional manual driver controls.
The rule amends several crashworthiness regulations and exempts automated vehicles designed never to carry any human occupants, including human drivers, from crashworthiness standards.
“With more than 90% of serious crashes caused by driver error, it’s vital that we remove unnecessary barriers to technology that could help save lives,” Deputy Administrator James Owens said. “We do not want regulations enacted long before the development of automated technologies to present an unintended and unnecessary barrier to innovation and improved vehicle safety.”
The rule will not change existing occupant protection requirements for traditional vehicles with manual driver controls.
The final rule is one of several regulatory actions taken by NHTSA to modernize vehicle standards for new technologies.
“The auto industry is witnessing a technological revolution, and tens of billions of dollars have been invested in automation research and development that holds the potential one day to change fundamentally the way we drive and to reduce dramatically vehicle-related deaths and injuries. But in a heavily regulated industry, these exciting developments carry with them a significant challenge: How can we protect public safety as the technology matures and, at the same time, provide sufficient breathing space for groundbreaking innovation to grow so that we can all one day realize the potential safety benefits that such innovation promises?” said James Owens, Deputy Administrator of the NHTSA.
Owens continued, stating that the NHTSA has already created the foundation for developing these technologies.
“(Former) Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao, has stressed the importance of ensuring America’s continued global leadership in emerging technologies, and under her leadership, the U.S. Department of Transportation as a whole and NHTSA, in particular, have taken careful steps to protect the traveling public while removing counterproductive regulatory barriers to innovative technologies,” Owens said. “With the ongoing development of technologies such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), connected vehicle-to-everything communications technology (V2X), and Automated Driving Systems (ADS), America once again has the potential to transform the future of transportation.”