DOT updates driverless vehicle guidelines

This week, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced updated safety guidelines for driverless vehicles while visiting a testing facility in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The new document outlining the guidelines, Automated Driving Systems (ADS): Vision for Safety 2.0, is published on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website and shares industry best practices and voluntary safety assessments companies can choose to file.

“The new guidance supports further development of this important new technology, which has the potential to change the way we travel and how we deliver goods and services,” Chao said in a statement. “The safe deployment of automated vehicle technologies means we can look forward to a future with fewer traffic fatalities and increased mobility for all Americans.”

Vision for Safety 2.0 aims to clarify the guidance for companies and eliminate the waiting period before testing or deploying vehicles, revise design elements from the safety self-assessment, align terminology used by the government with the industry’s and dictate the roles of the federal and local governments in the guidance.

The document encourages the industry and state and local governments to create ways for companies to deploy and test driverless vehicles. The agencies plan to further clarify guidelines for states and update them as technology evolves in the 3.0. A Vision for Safety.

In her speech, Chao lauded the benefits of self-driving vehicles, including how they could reduce the number of vehicle crashes and fatalities due to driver error. “Automated driving systems hold the promise of significantly reducing these errors and saving tens of thousands of lives in the process,” she said.

In the press release, she also explains how the cars could help people with disabilities. “In addition to safety, ADS technology offers important social benefits by improving access to transportation, independence and quality of life for those who cannot drive because of illness, advanced age or disability,” she said.

The announcement follows Chao’s reviewing voluntary guidelines released under President Obama last year that recommended automakers follow a 15-point safety assessment before road testing vehicles. The guidelines also had the federal government rather than states determine whether vehicles were safe and let states decide whether or not to allow road testing of driverless vehicles.

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