NHTSA Recommends Autonomous Vehicles be Used for Testing Only -- For Now
May 31, 2013 7:48 AM
NHTSA wants better safeguards before autonomous vehicles be used for general purposes on the roads
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said
should only be used for testing purposes by U.S. states until more safety features are added to these cars.
In a new set of recommendations, the NHTSA said self-driving cars need plenty of safety-related improvements before being considered for widespread consumer use. For instance, the agency said these vehicles should have a feature that recognizes when their technology is failing, and let the driver know so that they can take over quickly.
NHTSA also said that autonomous vehicles should be able to record these failures so that they can be understood later.
“We believe there are a number of technological issues as well as human performance issues that must be addressed before self-driving vehicles can be made widely available,” NHTSA said in its automated driving policy statement. “Self-driving vehicle technology is not yet at the stage of sophistication or demonstrated safety capability that it should be authorized for use by members of the public for general driving purposes.”
Some of the safety features the NHTSA is considering for autonomous vehicles is automatic braking, where the car would jump in and brake before a crash occurred.
Self-driving cars are currently being tested in California, Florida and Nevada, and the NHTSA said these cars should remain in a testing phase only until safety features improve. Once this happens, the NHTSA will reconsider their recommendations.
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said that autonomous vehicles are a long way away from hitting the roads beyond testing.
“We’re encouraged by the new automated vehicle technologies being developed and implemented today, but want to ensure that motor vehicle safety is considered in the development of these advances,” Strickland said. “As additional states consider similar legislation, our recommendations provide lawmakers with the tools they need to encourage the safe development and implementation of automated vehicle technology.”
Many believe the NHTSA is putting autonomous vehicles off because they would eliminate revenue from traffic violations (since the cars would prevent crashes, stop at red lights, drive the speed limit, etc.) and would hurt municipalities.
Last October, NHTSA announced that it would work on
a 2-3 year project
for autonomous vehicle rules. It said the research would include topics such as safety standards (such as crashtest results) and software security (to ensure that hackers don't take over).
The Detroit News
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