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US takes first step toward future self-driving car regulations

NHTSA wants the public to comment on the development of future principles.

Waymo self-driving car
There will most definitely be regulations for self-driving cars in the future.

We are long, long time away from widespread use of self-driving cars, though governments around the world are trying to get ahead of the game with regulations. In the US, any steps have been minimal at best, but now, it looks like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to take a real step forward.

On Thursday, the agency announced it's now seeking public comment on "the potential development of a framework of principles to govern the safe behavior of automated driving systems." To be clear, whatever the NHTSA has come up with so far is nowhere near final, but it wants the public to have its say on possible proposals to create future regulations. 

These early proposals seek to "define, assess and manage the safety of ADS performance while ensuring the needed flexibility to enable further innovation." Today, companies and automakers working on self-driving cars largely play by patchwork regulations across state lines. One cohesive blanket of regulations will definitely be important in the future.

The agency underscored that self-driving systems will be unlike any automotive system in use today, so it wants to ensure the public has its chance to speak on the challenges surrounding the technology. Concerns on security, safety and even privacy are all fair game.

Once the period for public comment closes, NHTSA said the feedback could help shape future policies, but any major decision is still likely years away.

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