Google’s autonomous tech considered an acceptable ‘driver’ in America 0

A major roadblock in the way of driverless technology becoming a reality has been taken down, giving the autonomous cars the green light to speed up its production.

The ruling by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) means that the autonomous software would, by federal law, be considered an acceptable enough ‘driver’ to safely be on the roads. This is a great development for makers and fans of the driverless vehicles who have until now been struggling with legislators in getting the cars closer to being on the roads.

Google’s autonomous tech considered an acceptable ‘driver’ in America

In the letter posted on their website, the NHTSA confirm that they “will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as referring to the [self-driving system], and not to any of the vehicle occupants…” going on to state that they are aware that in this context the term driver will be wildly different from the term in the “traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years.” In short, they’re fine with drivers not being actual real people sat holding a steering wheel, and that is excellent news for autonomous car developers. Many companies are competing to produce the first functional self-driving car, and have it tested to be road safe, however, governing bodies have been impeding the testing with demands, such as California reportedly requiring a driverless car to have a steering wheel and at least one licensed driver using the vehicle at all times. These regulations are proving to be particularly aggravating speed bumps for the developers, so this ruling has given hopes of a direct path to total imminent approval.

The NHTSA did impose some questions and requirements for autonomous tech developers like Google to respond to, however. Offering a comprehensive list of legal and safety obligations that cannot be waived for the near future, they raised issues such as ensuring there was a braking system controlled by foot. In the open letter, the NHTSA said to capitalise on their ruling and ensure that autonomous cars can keep progressing “the next question is whether and how Google could certify that the [self-driving system] meets a standard developed and designed to apply to a vehicle with a human driver.”

Federal laws would have to be rewritten, a process that can take years, so Google and the rest of the companies hoping to profit from driverless cars have a few more speed bumps to go before they hit the open road.