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Timetable for Self-driving Vehicle Guidance Warned to be too Aggressive by Automaker Group

Timetable for Self-driving Vehicle Guidance Warned to be too Aggressive by Automaker Group
U.S. auto safety regulators' timetable for unveiling guidance on the deployment of self-driving cars has been termed to be too aggressive by an automaker trade association of the country.
In order to get input as it writes policy guidance for states, automakers and tech companies about when and how autonomous vehicles should be allowed on U.S. roads, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Friday held the first of two public hearings. The guidelines have been pledged to be completes by July.
“NHTSA should not bind itself to arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines at the expense of robust and thoughtful policy analysis. NHTSA should instead consider the development incrementally," said Paul Scullion, safety manager at the Association of Global Automakers, a trade group representing Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co, Hyundai Motor Co and other major foreign automakers.
The agency must move quickly, noting cars with significant self-driving features like Tesla Motors Inc's autopilot function are already on the road, said the NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind while contradicting the auto association’s suggestions.
“Without NHTSA action people are going to just keep putting stuff out on the road with no guidance on how do we do this the right way," Rosekind said.
Major automakers and technology companies have complained that state and federal safety rules are impeding testing and ultimate deployment of such vehicles even as such companies led by Alphabet Inc's Google unit are racing to develop and sell vehicles that can drive themselves.
Google has logged more than 1.5 million miles of autonomous vehicle testing.
Citing their inability to operate in snow and other technical challenges, several speakers said self-driving vehicles are not ready for public use.
"Self-driving robot cars simply aren't ready to safely manage too many routine traffic situations without human intervention," Consumer Watchdog privacy project director John Simpson said at the hearing.
Before allowing self driving cars on the road, states should give self-driving cars "graduated driver licenses", suggested one commentator. Autonomous vehicles could be used as drone-style weapons, warned another commentator at the meeting.
A proposal for a state regulation that made it mandatory for all autonomous cars to have a steering wheel and throttle and brake pedals when operating on state roads was proposed by California in December. The driver’s eat should be occupied by a licensed driver ready to take over in the event something went wrong, the proposed regulations said.
Google has called on Congress to approve new legal authority for NHTSA to allow fully autonomous vehicles on U.S. roads as the company has opposed the proposal by the California state.
Another public meeting is being planned by NHTSA at Stanford University on April 27 on its autonomous vehicle guidance.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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