The United States unveiled Monday a sweeping new regulatory framework for the unexpectedly rapid onset of self-driving automobile technology, just days after Uber broke ground with its first driverless taxis.
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the federal government intends to set the safety standards for cars of the future where no human is involved in the driving, even while individual states still regulate cars with humans behind the wheel.
But some of the rules will extend to advanced driver-assistance systems, like those in Teslas, that can handle significant levels of driving even while demanding a person stay at the wheel of the car, officials said.
Announcing a 15-point safety assessment for driverless car systems, Foxx stressed that the government wants to work with developers — which include most large automakers as well as tech giants like Uber and Alphabet (Google) — without stifling their efforts.
“This area we recognize as an evolving area. This is an emerging technology,” he announced.
Foxx pointed out that drivers and cars have long been regulated by individual states in a “patchwork” of laws.
“The dynamic with the autonomous car is that the software is now operating the vehicle. And… when the software is operating the vehicle, that is an area that we intend to regulate.”