The new guidelines are created to unify development of automation features, including full autonomy and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and to help unify industry, local, state and federal government efforts to that end.
The revised guidance - to be unveiled Tuesday in MI by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao - drops a proposal issued under President Barack Obama that considered new powers for federal safety regulators to police automated vehicle safety, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Elliot Katz, a partner at McGuireWoods LLP who leads the firm's automated vehicle practice, said the revisions will likely stress the need for consumer education on autonomous vehicles, which Chao has called for before.
"Creativity and innovation are part of the great genius of our country, America", Chao said.
It's meant to be flexible guidance, Chao added, that will evolve as technologies evolve. The Obama-era policy stopped short of calling for new regulations, but it did lay ground rules for how companies should approach safety.
"In addition to safety", Chao said, "ADS technology offers important social benefits by improving access to transportation, independence and quality of life for those who can not drive because of illness, advanced age or disability".
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Specifically, the House bill would permit automakers to put up to 25,000 AVs on the road in the first year without meeting existing auto safety standards, a cap that would rise over three years to 100,000 vehicles a year.
The Senate Sept. 8 introduced a similar draft bill that addresses AV-related issues such as prioritizing safety, promoting continued innovation while reducing barriers, remaining tech neutral, strengthening cybersecurity and reinforcing separate federal and state roles-many of the same provisions already included in the House SELF DRIVE Act.
"Just as the NTSB says the government and industry should be stepping up its efforts to ensure the safety of Level 2 automated vehicles", he added, "the Department of Transportation and Secretary Chao are rolling back their responsibility in that space".
Regulators and lawmakers have been struggling to keep up with the pace of self-driving technology. "We are ushering in a new era".
In fact, DOT already plans to update this guidance by releasing document 3.0 in 2018, Chao said.