The Obama administration last yearaimed at the testing and deployment of self-driving cars in the US. Now, with a new president in charge, things are going to change... but specifics are scant.
US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced Monday that the Department of Transportation would revisit and revise the self-driving car guidelines issued under the previous administration. "The pressure is mounting for the federal government to do something," Chao said, as reported by Reuters.
While it's clear that the new DOT will likely adjust the framework to align with the administration's probusiness, antiregulation stance, any further specifics are just guesses at this point. Nobody's quite sure what this new policy will look like, or how much it will change that of from the previous administration.
The previous Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, which debuted in September, included a 15-point assessment that automakers would use to determine whether or not an autonomous car is ready for testing on public roads. It discusses many components of the development cycle, including validation methods, privacy and crashworthiness.
No matter the administration, this sort of policy is needed before the country embraces autonomous cars. Right now, it's largely up to each state to implement laws and regulations regarding self-driving cars, which has led to a patchwork of regulations that differ from state to state.
According to Reuters, automakers have brought up issues with the Obama administration's policy, claiming that its requirements for data sharing could "delay testing by months." Yet, at the same time, they've also expressed a desire for concrete regulations that spell everything out clearly for any automaker or company that wishes to develop self-driving cars. It sounds like Chao's DOT has plenty of work ahead.
Right now, we're in the Wild West of self-driving-car development. Tech firms such as Waymo and Uber are pursuing their own routes, while a number of automakers -- VW, Ford, you name it really -- are taking their own paths. Some are testing their cars in California, while others are out in Arizona, Michigan and other states that permit public testing. The hope, for now at least, is to get self-driving cars ready for public consumption around 2021.