U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will unveil revised self-driving vehicle guidelines at a testing facility in Michigan next week, according to reports this week.
Last September, under the Obama Administration, the Department of Transportation published new guidelines to service as best practices for automakers to follow when designing, testing, and building autonomous vehicles.
In addition to the revised guidelines, the US House of Representatives is also scheduled to vote on the Self Drive Act later today. The bill aims to speed up the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles.
General Motors, Uber, Google and an array of other automakers and technology companies have promised to bring self-driving cars to our roads by 2021. However, they have become increasingly frustrated by state regulations. For example, Google’s self driving unit and other automakers objected to California proposals to set new, mandatory rules for testing self-driving cars last October.
The new bill would give automakers exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing safety standards in the first year of production. The cap would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over the next three years.
Public and private companies are investing huge amounts in autonomous technology because they believe it will lower accidents and provide a higher degree of road safety. Autonomous vehicles will reduce the dependency on human driving skills and prevent a large number of fatal accidents globally. These vehicles can reduce traffic density using fleet formation and reduce congestion further by using robotic systems to park themselves.
A few weeks ago, the German government published a list of ethical guidelines for self-driving cars. The guidelines were developed by the Ethics Commission at the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. They say vehicles should be prohibited from making decisions about human safety based on "age, gender, physical or mental constitution” and "be programmed to accept damage to animals or property in a conflict if this means that personal injury can be prevented.”
The market itself is forecast to value around $126 billion by 2027. Increased investments by automakers, the changing needs and behaviour of customers, and environment-friendly features are expected to drive market growth.
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