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Federal Officials Plan Aggressive Approach to Driverless Cars

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A driver takes his hands off the steering wheel.

Federal officials say they intend to aggressively shape the emergence of driverless cars, increasing their role well beyond the traditional recalls of cars when they prove defective.


U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx on Monday announced plans to aggressively influence the launch of driverless car technology.

Foxx released a policy paper asking manufacturers to document for the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration how and where they expect their vehicles to operate, how they will engage with other automobiles and the road, how they validate their testing, how they plan to protect privacy and thwart hacking, and how they would share data gathered by onboard computers.

Foxx says DOT will cooperate with automakers to "ensure that safety is appropriately addressed in the front end of development."

States' regulatory role seems likely to shrink with the federal government's expanding authority. Foxx says the latter would regulate in cases where software is operating a vehicle, while the former would hold sway when a human is driving the car.

Carnegie Mellon University professor Raj Rajkumar wants to avoid a patchwork of state laws applying to autonomous vehicles, which he says could become a nightmare for motorists.

Foxx notes federal authorities intend to discuss with automakers and policymakers explicit powers to measure vehicle safety before self-driving cars hit the market. Incremental deployment of autonomous systems in specific design domains also is expected initially.

From The Washington Post
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