We have previously talked about the new autopilot technology being developed by many car manufacturers. Massive companies such as Google, Tesla, and Uber are all in the process of perfecting the first self-driving or “autonomous vehicle.” Although fatal accidents have occurred due to the still developing technology, it may have a very promising future. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently issued guidelines for companies racing to put their self-driving vehicles on the road.
Every year thousands of people are killed in car accidents and the NHTSA has recognized this as a growing problem. The idea of autonomous cars has developed into a practical solution to reduce the number of fatalities and injury on the road. Obviously, there is risk associated with putting lives in the hands of a developing technology; however, down the road this technology could save numerous lives and money once all flaws are worked out. According to the NHTSA, approximately 94% of crashes are the result of human error. With that being said, a car capable of avoiding those errors would be hugely beneficial to society.
The new guidelines issued by NHTSA encompass four specific sections and aim to minimize the risks of using self-driving vehicles and regulating their production. The first section addresses a 15-point safety inspection. This aspect sets standards for companies to consider their autonomous vehicle safe for use. For example, how the vehicle responds in life threatening situations as well as crash precautions. The other 3 sections address the power the government will have over companies manufacturing these vehicles and how the federal regulations will work with the varying state laws regarding autonomous driving.
The Federal Government appears to be very interested in this technology and is carefully monitoring the progression. The new guidelines, although not officially law, portray the legitimacy and practicality of cars driving themselves. It can be implied that if perfected, autonomous vehicles may revolutionize how we use the roads. Even beyond improving highway safety, this technology could give people that are disabled, or otherwise unable to drive, access to the roadways.