DOT to issue guidance on autonomous cars by mid-summer

DOT to issue guidance on autonomous cars by mid-summer

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said DOT would issue federal guidelines on autonomous vehicles by mid-summer, a major step to bringing them on the road. Foxx suggested that DOT would not go through a lengthy, formal rulemaking process but would find a faster way to offer guidance.

The goal is to avoid a patchwork of state laws and regulations. Several states have already started to take action. California, for example, has issued draft regulations requiring that a human driver be present in an autonomous vehicle in case of an accident and liability problems. NHTSA recently told Google that a carês software could be considered as the driver if no human is present. ŒŒ

Safety advocates are worried that federal guidelines could be rushed through before the technology is ready for mass adoption. Whatês more, cybersecurity concerns have yet to be addressed. And some observersê confidence in the technology was shaken when a Google car hit a municipal bus earlier this year.

In other news on autonomous vehicles:

« Young people prefer to do their own driving. While awareness of autonomous vehicles is strong among young people, more than 60% say they would prefer to do the driving themselves, according to new research by Nielsen. The older the youth (through grade 12), the stronger their preference for driving themselves. Young consumers overall are nearly as interested in owning an autonomous vehicle made by a technology company as in buying one from an auto manufacturer. But middle-and high-schoolers favor traditional automakers.

« Fuel efficiency for autonomous vehicles could improve by up to 10%. Thatês if the EPA revamps its fuel economy and emissions standards tests to account for the early autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies likely to be offered in coming years, said researchers at Carnegie Mellon. Without changes to the current tests to include those technologies, fuel economy could drop by 3%. Connected autonomous vehicles will be able to predict how other cars will behave on the road, an ability that will allow the autonomous cars to accelerate and decelerate more smoothly. That could significantly affect fuel use. –Because existing standardized tests donêt consider AV technologies, there are limited incentives for car manufacturers to design cars for optimum fuel efficiency,” said Carnegie Mellon assistant professor Constantine Samaras.

« More autonomous vehicles could mean far fewer accidents and lower insurance costs. A report from Moodyês Investors Service predicts that widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles, while still decades away, will mean far fewer accidents and could bring down insurance premiums by 10%. –Regulators, lawmakers and courts will have to determine how liabilities are shared among insurers, automobile manufacturers and technology companies,” said Jasper Cooper of Moodyês.

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