The U.S. government is bringing in new rules geared toward changing automotive passenger safety standards that might be barriers to autonomous vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it is seeking comment on updated standards to account for automobiles that don’t have manual controls such as steering wheels or brake pedals. Self-driving vehicles also may not have drivers sitting in the driver’s seat.
The proposal would review requirements and test procedures, the agency stated in an announcement Tuesday. It would make clear that passenger safety standard requirements do not apply to automobiles explicitly made to transport goods and not people.
The recommended regulation would apply front passenger seat protection requirements to the traditional driver’s seat of a self-driving vehicle rather than safety standards that are specific to the driver’s seat, the agency stated.
NHTSA says in the regulation much of safety potential of self-driving driving systems are “unsubstantiated and the impacts unknown,” however it believes the correct way forward is to remove boundaries.
The public has nearly 60 days to comment on the recommendations. Based on the comments, NHTSA would make amendments or then put the rule into effect.
The regulation is for autonomous vehicles and doesn’t address multiple recommendations from the National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) made in February about partially automated cars with driver assistance programs.