The National Highway Traffic-Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking for comments on how best to test and deploy self-driving vehicles.
In the Department of Transportation's October 2017 Significant Rulemaking Report, NHSTA writes:
The National Highway Traffic-Safety Administration (NHTSA) seeks comments to identify any unnecessary regulatory barriers to Automated Safety Technologies, and for the testing and compliance certification of motor vehicles with unconventional automated vehicles designs, particularly those that are not equipped with controls for a human driver; e.g., steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedal. Further, NHTSA seeks comments on the research that would be required to remove such barriers. This action will inform subsequent steps in the regulatory process to amend Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) and other motor vehicle regulations in order to safely lay a path for innovative automated vehicle designs and technology.
NHTSA will consider submitted comments in future amendments to federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) and other rules related to self-driving technologies.
According to Reuters.com, automakers must currently meet nearly 75 auto safety standards, most written assuming a licensed driver will be in control of the vehicle. NHTSA said last year that current regulations pose “significant” regulatory hurdles to vehicles without human controls.
Additionally, manufactures are well in to developing and refining self-driving technologies for on and off-road vehicles but are having to deal with a variety of overlapping regulations that differ by state, county, and jurisdiction. The autonomous vehicle industry as a whole is looking for clearly defined regulations and responsibilities from states and the federal government.
Under the Self Drive Act passed by the House in September, manufacturers would be exempt from some federal and state regulations during testing, however states would retain the decision as to permit self-driving cars on their roads. In October, the Senate passed a similar bill aimed at revving up the use of self-driving cars. The Senate proposal requires NHSTA to have permanent rules on autonomous vehicles completed within 10 years.
A formal notice to the public from NHSTA is expected to be announced next month.