Pony.AI builds one of the vehicles to be covered by new federal safety regulations.

Government Agencies Issue Self-Driving Vehicle Guidelines, Accountability Methods

Since the dream of a completely autonomous vehicle is nearly a reality, it only stands to reason that the laws overseeing such vehicles have to be adjusted. Things like seatbelts in new places and steering wheels not being anyplace is raising questions about keeping people safe. And an article in techcrunch.com has some of the answers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the first-of-its-kind final rule that updates the safety requirements for vehicles without manual controls.

The rule, which, among other modifications, changes terminology in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) to reflect the physical design of automated vehicles, builds on the agency’s previous efforts to ensure public safety as automation evolves. Last year, NHTSA issued an order that required AV operators and manufacturers to report crashes to the agency, and in 2020, it launched an AV testing initiative that allows states and companies to submit information about AV testing that can be viewed by the public.

“As the driver changes from a person to a machine in ADS-equipped vehicles, the need to keep the humans safe remains the same and must be integrated from the beginning,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s deputy administrator, in a statement. “With this rule, we ensure that manufacturers put safety first.”

While Elon Musk has had us all very excited about his AVs and the Tesla truck, the fact is these vehicles are still not proven to be 100% safe.

Now some AV transportation will be for commercial use and some for people transportation. Some will be like the ones used by Waymo, Motional, and Argo AI in which the design retains a steering wheel for a driver to oversee operations. The new regulations take these features into consideration. But the goal is to be driverless and accident-free.

New frames, new body styles, and new interiors will be reviewed for safety, along with the AI guiding them.

“Through the 2020s, an important part of USDOT’s safety mission will be to ensure safety standards keep pace with the development of automated driving and driver assistance systems,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a statement. “This new rule is an important step, establishing robust safety standards for ADS-equipped vehicles.”

read more at techcrunch.com