There's a great deal of controversy surrounding the concept of self-driving cars. The University of Michigan recently published the results of study that indicated only 16% of people surveyed would be interested in a fully automated vehicle, and that at this point, most drivers would still want their vehicle to have both a steering wheel and pedals so that they could take control of the car whenever they wanted, even though some researchers feel that rotating between autopilot and manual control could actually increase the odds of an accident taking place.

On the other hand, most members of the government, the automotive industry, and the media, can't stop talking about how much self-driving cars will improve life. Former President Obama is a huge fan of self-driving cars. He feels that self-driving cars have the ability to reduce vehicular accidents by 94%, resulting in approximately 30,000 less deaths each year.

While it will be awhile before self-driving cars become a regular site on the highways, the Department of Transportation has decided that it's time to set some basic ground rules for automated vehicles. They hope that these early regulations will make automated vehicles safer, cleaner, and more accessible.

The regulations focus heavily on how automated vehicles will perform and how they will be tested. At this point, the U.S. Department of Treasury is willing to let each individual state handle the testing, though they're pushing for each state to have the exact same rules, so that drivers don't have to worry about breaking the law when they drive from one state to another.

Safety Checks

According to the Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, they are still in the process of coming up with a specific 15-point safety assessment, but he's confident that by the time the first self-driving car is on the market, they'll have a system in place. At this point, it's likely all automated cars will have to meet specific criteria in the following categories:

  • Environment and obstacle assessment
  • Vehicle privacy
  • Cybersecurity
  • Crash response

There's no word on how often drivers will have to get the automated driving system in their car checked out after they've purchased the vehicle.

The Department of Technology hopes that by establishing rules and regulations for self-driving cars now, before they're ready to be purchased, the automotive industry will be able to streamline the development and testing process. Companies such as Tesla and Uber are aggressively working on developing the technology needed to make self-driving cars a reality. The University of Michigan has created Mcity, a 32 acre network of complicated roads and driving conditions that's currently being used to aid in the development of fully automated vehicles.

These new developments require a myriad of new regulations, and the government is taking a rather innovative approach to the rules regarding this new technology. The government hopes this methodology will speed up the development of the self-driving vehicles, so that our roads become safer as soon as possible.

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