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New rules are coming for driverless technology


As driverless technology becomes more sophisticated, clarification is needed when it comes to safety rules that govern this innovation that remains in relatively early stages. In response, the current presidential administration has issued a final rule with the goal of ensuring the same level of safety for drivers and passengers.

Much-needed updates

The 155-page rule represents a much-needed update to more archaic language dealing with traditional vehicle features that require manual operation. The changes now account for vehicles that may be equipped with ADS, also known as automated driving systems. It updates the current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards, accounting for those that do not have traditional manual controls used by an actual driver.

The rule’s objective is to ensure that all motor vehicle manufacturers prioritize the safety of occupants in motor vehicles that have ADS. It provides certainty for companies that could see their costs slightly reduced, specifically when it comes to taking away the need to install redundant traditional features and overall equipment costs.

Opponents speak up

The new rule has its share of detractors.

  • The National Safety Council (NSC) referred to the rules as “premature” and “hasty,” due to most ADS vehicle designs remaining on the “drawing board” and would not benefit from the revised standards. They also see the possibility of unforeseen issues.
  • Consumer Reports expressed doubt over removing regulatory barriers instead of creating and incorporating already proven safety technologies standards.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) expressed similar concerns over the lack of regulation while establishing ground rules for “safe behavior of ADS.”

The impact going forward will only affect passenger vehicles for now. The rule will become effective 180 days following publication in the Federal Register.