Self-driving cars are growing on the U.S. Department of Transportation following years of debates and technological advancements.
In May 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation declared in a cautious tone that the official policy at the federal level regarding the use of self-driving cars envisions the pioneering technology being used only for testing purposes. At the time, public access to self-driving cars was considered a no-go.
Nothing last forever though. And in the face of an emerging potentially life-saving technology and industry, federal officials are warming up to the idea of broader access to self-driving cars. In this sense, the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Mr. Anthony Foxx recognized the need for policies and regulations to be aligned to a new reality. He declared:
“I want the posture of our agency to be obviously vigilant on the safety front, but I don’t want our agency to be skittish about innovations that are out there”.
As this implies a clear sign that self-driving cars are growing on the U.S. Department of Transportation, Mr. Foxx declared that the federal policy will be updated accordingly. Not in a matter of months, but in a matter of weeks. Nonetheless, no definite timeline has been given as to when should we expect an emerging federal policy on self-driving cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working for this to become reality.
Automakers like Nissan, Tesla Motors or Honda have joined Google in the race for the innovative technology. For several years prototypes have been tested in different U.S. cities and could be seen driving around highways and city streets. All automakers and Google have kept the emergency ‘driver’ in the car ready to intervene at any time if something went wrong.
However, as the technology is evolving, everyone seems to be moving further from this safety feature. The self-driving cars of the future should not need a human driver to control it just in case, but should be the safe, cost-efficient, environmentally-friendly, automated means of transport offering a comfortable and carefree ride.
Some of the self-driving cars have been in some trouble, with reported accidents during their test periods. In all cases, the blame was assigned to reckless drivers sharing the highways or city streets with the prototypes.
Several states, including California have started working on state regulations related to self-driving cars. However, the U.S. Department of Transportation seems to be taking the lead now. While emphasis is still placed on safety regulations, broader adoption is also in the cards.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia