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NHTSA To Regulate Driverless Cars

Multiple news agencies have been reporting that federal agents will be researching car safety associated with autonomous car systems but few are actually reporting on how this research will be conducted.

According to a recent publishing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has decided to outline the agency’s first plans to regulate and safely test the technology.

Agents have indicated that up to this moment, safety standards are based on the presumption that a human driver is required to operate the vehicle with a certain amount of safety equipment. Now, federal agents will have to work on changing this assumption and keeping in mind that from now on, vehicles with an autonomous system will pose a challenge to the legal community. Liability concerns and acceptance amongst drivers will also be addressed.

Google, the company behind the development of the driverless car technology, has logged more than 200,000 miles of autonomous car driving test with the help of Toyota Priuses. According to recent reports, the federal agency is looking into hard work to develop the right standards for driverless cars since this technology is unlike anything they have ever seen before.

At this moment reports show that Google, automakers and the federal agency have been in constant contact to develop plans to make autonomous vehicles available to consumers. Ideally, GM hopes to have autonomous cars available to their customers by 2020, reports show. Google has only reported it will be working with automakers to develop the technology, however, a plan to launch a Google car has not been reported.

Some of the stages the federal agency will have to go through in the process of developing safety standards for autonomous cars include monitored automation, which means keeping in mind that driving authority can be shared. Drivers can have the main, primary control while the system will safely operate the vehicle. During this stage, drivers are still responsible for monitoring the vehicle’s performance.

In a second stage, the vehicle would be tested while being conditionally automated, which means that the driver will allow the system to take full control of the vehicle. This stage would only be feasible under specific environmental and traffic conditions.

The third stage consists of a fully automated scenario, which will let the system account for the full operation of the vehicle in a safe and reliable manner. Agents believe that they still have to look deep into each scenario and test the system thoroughly before it’s actually ready.

For more on how the federal agency will be addressing safety concerns associated with the autonomous car system, click here.

About the Author
The Vachon Law Firm is based in Southern California and focuses exclusively on consumer protection litigation.